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PATIENCE key to getting vaccine; local plan essential

Patience is a difficult emotion to manage, but it is what will be needed as we await a widespread distribution plan for the coronavirus. It is an essential next element.

It’s difficult, though, when the climbing death count hits ever closer to home. Who hasn’t wondered, with deaths nationwide over 400,000 and in Lycoming County nearly 200, “Will I be among the ranks brought down by COVID-19?”

A dreadful thought, a frightening prospect, indeed, for many who still cling to the goals and plans for their lives that they had just one year ago.

We want to come out of restrictions and for lock downs to be a thing of the past. But overall, we want to survive.

And we can. But it will take great patience as the plan is developed and put into place.

It is maddening that a plan was not in place as the march toward the vaccine hastened, that this past week has been a mix of hope and conflicting information.

The plan must be the top public health priority, and we’re not just talking about on a federal or even a state level, but locally.

The Lycoming County Commissioners have formed a task force and are developing a network of sites for testing and immunization.

Good. This is vital. It cannot happen fast enough.

In addition to setting up sites, we hope officials will find ways for people to register that do not require the registrant to be a computer user. Many in the 1A group do not own a computer, let alone know how to use one, yet they are the ones who should be at the front of the line.

We hope work is devoted to the local plan daily so our area is ready when the state and nation are ready to churn out enough doses to make it happen.

It is unfortunate that there have been some missteps. When the state this week greatly expanded the 1A group of people eligible for the vaccine now, it seemed to be putting the horse first. Where was the cart?

As news was released, almost immediately the limited supplies of vaccine and limited sites administering them to anyone beyond healthcare workers were overwhelmed. It did not help that the expansion of eligibles did not come with an increase in the allotment of doses from the state.

But once the supply chain opens and vaccines flow more freely, the plan for mass vaccination must be in place. It takes time for each dose to be administered in a socially distanced facility, including a waiting period to check on side effects.

River Valley Health and Dental, for instance, reports they were able to give 250 vaccines this past week and hope to double that number next week.

“Try to be patient. We have more than 1,500 people on our waiting list,” said James Yoxtheimer, the center’s president and CEO.

Think about the math. The population of Lycoming County is just above 120,000. How long will it take to accommodate everyone?

And let’s compare that to the state allocations. As of Wednesday, the state had allocated 372,450 Pfizer vaccines and 425,000 Moderna vaccines since Dec. 17. That’s a drop in the Pennsylvania bucket, given a population of 12.7 million.

Yes, we need to add patience to our coronavirus arsenal of masks, social distance and sanitization. We must continue with those tools.

And we need leadership that is committed to ramping up the plan. We need people working on this every single day.

Every. Single. Day. Without missing a beat.

Our lives may depend on it.

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