In January, Charlom Pierce searched for a place where his 96-year-old father could get the COVID-19 vaccine and found no choice near his home in Virginia. There was nothing in Sally County’s only clinic, and the last pharmacy in the area with approximately 6,500 residents and more land than Chicago closed a few years ago.
To take a shot, some residents ferry across the vast James River to cities such as Williamsburg. Others have driven farms and woodlands for over an hour to reach medical facilities that provide vaccines. The county received its first signal in 2007.
At one point, Pierce heard about a state-owned vaccination event 45 minutes earlier, but no further reservations were available. Probably the best bet. The wait there is reported to last up to 7 hours.
“It would have been a tough job,” she said, citing her father’s health and the need to use the bathroom frequently. “I couldn’t sit him in the car and wait for something to happen. We’re not in a third world country.”
Vaccination remains a challenge for residents of the “pharmacy desert,” a community without pharmacies or well-equipped clinics, as national campaigns against coronavirus move from mass vaccination sites to drugstores and clinics. is. To improve access, “the federal government has partnered with 21 companies that operate independent pharmacies or pharmacy services in grocery stores and elsewhere.
With more than 40,000 stores expected to attend, the Biden administration states that nearly 90% of Americans, from Hy-Vee and Wal-Mart to Costco and Rite Aid, live within five miles.
However, there are gaps in the map. More than 400 local counties with a total population of approximately 2.5 million do not have retail pharmacies included in the partnership. More than 100 in these counties have pharmacies that do not have pharmacies or have historically not provided services such as influenza vaccination, with equipment and certified staff to vaccinate customers. It may be missing.
According to Keith Mueller, director of the University of Iowa’s RUPRI center, independent pharmacies that have traditionally served rural areas have disappeared, and mail-order prescription victims have been victimized, including Walgreens and CVS. Competition with the chain is intensifying. Rural health policy analysis.
“There are many counties excluded from the federal retail pharmacy program,” Mueller said, who compiled pharmacy data for 400 counties by the Research Center. “Especially in the western states, it is geographically vast and almost empty.”
The challenge of getting vaccinated near your home is not limited to rural areas. According to a February study released by the University of Pittsburgh Pharmacy and the Western Center for Health Policy, there is a relatively shortage of health care facilities in some urban areas, especially African Americans.
In this study, 69 counties where black residents are much more likely to have to travel more than a mile to reach potential vaccination sites, such as pharmacies, hospitals, and federal-qualified health centers. Was listed. One-third of these counties were urban areas, including the homes of cities such as Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, and New Orleans.
In addition, the study identified 94 counties where black residents were significantly more likely to have to travel more than 10 miles than white residents to reach potential immunization sites. The counties were predominantly concentrated in the southeastern United States, with Virginia being the most concentrated in 16 states, with Texas concentrated.
The lack of pharmacies and other health care infrastructure in some rural areas of the country was exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic affecting racial minorities and low-income members disproportionately. It highlights the medical disparity.
The former drugstore in Sally County, where about 40% of the population is black, is now a cafe. No one seems to remember exactly when the sari drug was taken. Co. has closed, but cafe co-owner Sarah Mayo remembers going there as a kid. She is currently driving 45 minutes to Wal-Mart or CVS.
“I don’t know if more people will be vaccinated,” Mayo, 62, said if the pharmacy still existed. “But at least you have a credible local who explains the pros and cons.”
Residents of Surry County also received prescriptions at the adjacent Wakefield Pharmacy in Sussex County until they closed in November. Owner Russell Alan Garner wanted to retire and couldn’t find a buyer.
“We have become dinosaurs,” Garner said.
In January, Surry County officials saw the vaccine arrive in other parts of Virginia where there were more people or more cases of coronavirus. Horrible doses may not arrive for months, if any, they have begun to put pressure on state authorities.
In a letter to the Governor’s Office, Sally worked with the surrounding community to express concern about the “fairness” of the vaccine, especially for low-income earners and other disadvantaged people. Some of those communities said they had redistributed funds to support vaccination efforts.
“Living in a local community is often overlooked by everyone, from politicians to government agencies,” said county director Michael Drury.
Melissa Rollins, manager of Sally County, wrote to the community’s health district, stating that driving outside the county was not feasible for most residents. She said Sally was ready to sponsor a mass vaccination site, recruited people who could manage the shots, and devised a plan to ensure that qualified residents were ready.
The first clinic in Surry County was held on February 6th at a high school in a small town in Dendron. The school district rushed to disseminate information as teachers and other staff members were vaccinated when staff members of county and community health district staff learned of additional doses.
Sally already had a waiting list of qualified people through a survey designed to reach vulnerable populations. Due to unstable internet access, I used the emergency alert telephone system.
Pierce received the call and immediately went out with his father, Charles Robins. I waited 20 minutes by car to high school for 2 hours. Pierce, 64, also took a shot with about 240 other people that day.
Three more vaccination clinics were held in the county. And the community health district administered 1,080 doses as of March 2. This number accounts for the majority of the dose received by the county’s inhabitants, but hundreds were shot outside the county.
Overall, approximately 1,800 county residents receive at least one dose. This was about 28% of the population, almost twice the state’s equal temperament. About half of the vaccinated people are black.
The Virginia Department of Health said vaccine distribution is based on population and COVID rates. However, the ministry said it is considering adjustments to ensure geographical and racial equality.
Pierce and her father were relieved to take a second shot in late February. But she said Sally’s countryside personality first put it at a disadvantage.
“I have close friends. They were indispensable workers and had to go as far as an hour to take a shot,” she said. “You should not be alienated by your zip code.”
But Bruce Adams, a cowherd and commissioner in San Juan County, Utah, about the size of New Jersey and overlapping Navajo Nation, said driving long distances is a way of life for many in rural areas. It was.
“I had to take both shots and drive a 44-mile round trip to the public health center,” said Adams, 71. “I don’t think it’s more of a problem than anything else we usually do in our lives … go to the doctor, dentist and do your haircut.”
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