California Versus England: COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution

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Images courtesy of www.abc.net.au, ktla.com, and people.com

British PM Boris Johnson and California’s Governor Gavin Newsom observing COVID-19 vaccines.

Across the world—and across the pond—nations have begun distributing vaccines for COVID-19 to their populations in an effort to bring an end to the pandemic that has brought lockdowns for the past 11 months, but many areas are handling this distribution differently. Two examples of these different approaches to vaccine distribution can be seen in the comparison of how Canyon High’s home state of California is handling the vaccine versus how England is handling it.
The populations of the state of California and the country of England are fairly close, with California’s being around 39.61 million people and England’s being around 56.21 million

A promotional poster for residents of California to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Image courtesy of www.fsaca.org)

people according to Statistica and World Population Review. Naturally, one would assume that California is vaccinating more of its population at a faster pace than England since California has fewer people to vaccinate. Somehow, that is not the case. England already has about 27.81% of its population vaccinated as of Feb 23, that is almost double of California’s rate, which now has only about 14.1% of its population vaccinated also as of Feb 23 according to the Los Angeles Times.
England and California right now have quite similar “priority” or “tier” lists for who is being vaccinated and in what order. Here in California, it is broken up into phases, as listed below from abc7.com.

“Phase 1A-
Healthcare workers
Workers/residents at nursing facilities and long-term homes
Phase 1B-
People 65 and older
Education and healthcare
Emergency workers
Food/grocery/agriculture
Phase 1C-
People ages 16-64 with disabilities and/or underlying health conditions”

Phase 2- This has yet to be announced to the public

England’s plan is broken up into numbered priority groups, as shown below from lbc.co.uk.
“1. care home residents and their carers

2. people over the age of 80 and frontline health and social care workers

3. people over the age of 75

4. people over the age of 70 and those deemed to be “clinically extremely vulnerable
5. people over the age of 65

6. people aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and death.

7. people over the age of 60

8. people over the age of 55”

The COVID-19 vaccine in front of the British flag. (Image courtesy of pink.pharmaintelligence.informa.com)

As for the execution of vaccinating these groups, England (and the UK) has already offered the vaccine to everyone within their first four priority groups and is now moving ahead with vaccinating groups 5-9, in hopes to be done by April 15. California is now vaccinating those within Phases 1A and 1B very similarly to England, but those in Phase 1B are only being vaccinated “as supplies allow”, according to the covid19.ca.gov website. California is planning now to begin vaccinating those in Phase 1C on March 15, but as for Phase 2, those included and when they will be included is unclear at the moment.
So at this rate, when will all adults in both areas be completely vaccinated?

“We will now aim to offer a jab to every adult by the end of July, helping us protect the most vulnerable sooner, and take further steps to ease some of the restrictions in place,” Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson said.

Now if England and the entire UK plans to be done with vaccinating adults by June 1, surely California, whose population is

Cars lined up outside of a California vaccination center. (Image courtesy of www.ocregister.com)

much smaller compared to that of the UK (which includes the combined populations of all of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), will be easily planned to finish up with all of their adults before then? Yet again, California goes against all logic as somehow, this is not the case.
Research England’s plans for vaccinating and one will be bombarded with headlines about optimistic and clear goals for vaccinating all adults by summer. Research the same information for California, and one would be met only with information about who is (barely) getting vaccinated now and who is planning to start getting their vaccines this spring.

A map of COVID-19 vaccination centers across the United Kingdom. (Image courtesy of bbc.com)

While there are many differences in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, one problem that has occurred in multiple places is that of a shortage of the actual vaccine supplies. In England this week, vaccine centers saw a sharp decline in vaccinations given out on a daily basis, but this decline was expected. According to the Guardian, ministers in the UK have expected this increase and decrease in vaccine supply because of, for example, Pfizer’s plan to reduce output this month in order to increase it next month. Also according to The Guardian, there were some other reasons for this reduction in supply.

“…the higher than expected uptake so far, and also the need to reserve stock so that second doses can be offered to people who received their first dose in December,” Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister in Scotland regarding the vaccine supply said.

In all of this, while the supply has lowered, vaccines were still given out in England. Meanwhile in California, due to the storm that has plagued

Patients receiving their COVID-19 vaccines in an England vaccine center. (Image courtesy of chicago.suntimes.com)

Texas, the delay of COVID vaccines forced some vaccination centers in California to close completely for a couple of days, according to the Los Angeles Times. Also due to this lack of supply of the vaccine, there have been issues of people in the state of California worrying about getting their second vaccine within the time frame that it is needed. One such example could be seen when a Ralphs vaccination center in Los Angeles County had to close.
“At this time, we regret to inform you that your COVID-19 vaccination appointment is delayed for potentially four weeks or more, depending on future delivery of additional doses,” Ralphs, in an email to customers, said.

Overall, California’s vaccination distribution, in general, has been under fire.

Patients lined up outside of the Disneyland vaccination center. (Image courtesy of www.nytimes.com)

“According to the most recent federal data, California is still sitting on 40% of its allotted vaccine, putting it in the bottom third of all 50 states,” Ben Christopher from calmatters.org said,
“The messaging also has been hard to decipher, with information from the governor’s office sometimes at odds with that being issued by the counties.”

This brings up another issue of California’s vaccine rollout. Look up the number of vaccination centers in England and the answer is quite clear that, with maps of all of the locations, there are over 1,500 centers, according to BBC news. Lookup California’s number of vaccine centers and one would find only information about vaccine centers split up by county, not all of California. This is just one example of how disjointed and split California’s distribution of the vaccine has been.
In conclusion, it seems that in this situation, while England’s vaccine rollout is not without its faults, it is doing much better at getting its population vaccinated than California. Perhaps in the coming months, or even the coming weeks, California will catch up or England will end up being too optimistic about its vaccine distribution timeline. This is all very new and is changing even by the day. For now, it seems that the grass is indeed much greener across the pond.

Sources:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/294729/population-united-kingdom-uk-by-country/
https://worldpopulationreview.com/states/california-population
https://www.latimes.com/projects/california-coronavirus-cases-tracking-outbreak/covid-19-vaccines-distribution/
https://abc7.com/covid-vaccine-california-tracker-ca-newsom-update/9567632/
https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-vaccinations/
https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/explained/when-will-people-over-60-get-the-covid-vaccine/
https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/
https://www.axios.com/boris-johnson-uk-adults-covid-vaccine-july-3c0134a1-1d0b-4439-ac95-bdbeae76ac40.html
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/feb/23/number-of-uk-covid-vaccinations-falls-by-a-third-as-vaccine-supply-dips
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-01-29/wait-for-second-covid-vaccine-dose-concerns-californians
https://calmatters.org/health/coronavirus/2021/02/newsom-california-vaccine-delay-covid-planning/
https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55274833
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-01-28/ralphs-cancels-covid-19-vaccine-appointments