On September 4, 2020, NACCHO submitted comments to the National Academies of Medicine Committee on Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus. The full comments can be found here.
NACCHO’s comments include the following statement highlighting the role of local health departments in distribution of an eventual COVID-19 vaccine:
Local health departments serve a vital role in the provision of essential immunization services and counseling. According to NACCHO’s 2019 Profile of Local Health Departments, 88% of local health departments provide direct immunization services to both adults and children. Further, all local health departments play a role in other essential immunization activities, such as conducting surveillance, providing education, and developing communication campaigns to bolster immunization rates. As the world and nation face this historic pandemic, it is important to highlight that local health departments have been and continue to be on the frontlines supporting their communities.
In a recent assessment, NACCHO explored the current impact of COVID-19 on local immunization programs. Results indicated that 88% of local immunization program staff were re-assigned to respond to COVID-19, nearly 90% indicated that essential immunization program services have been impacted, and 62% reported a noticeable decline in vaccination coverage rates. Alarmingly, state and local public health officials have reported an increase in job losses, resignations, and threats from the public as they recommend public health guidance to mitigate the threat of COVID-19 in their communities. Regardless, public health professionals remain committed and dedicated to addressing vaccine coverage, prioritizing health equity, promoting vaccine confidence, and preparing for the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine. Any plan for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine must include local health departments as key stakeholders in the strategy and planning process, not simply as sites to distribute vaccine.
Any plan for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine must include local health departments as key stakeholders in the strategy and planning process, not simply as sites to distribute vaccine.
Photo credit: CDC/ Robert Denty