Michael Maron, CEO of the Holy Name Medical Center, told CNBC on Tuesday that its New Jersey hospital’s Covid vaccination efforts had been hampered by a consistent problem: inconsistent availability.
“The biggest challenge we are currently facing is delivering the vaccine. We just can’t get it and we can’t get it any reliable way. It’s very difficult,” said Maron at the Power Lunch.
“One week we have Pfizer, the next week Moderna,” he added, referring to the manufacturers of the two vaccines, which have received emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. “We never know exactly how much of it is, whether it’s a thousand doses … or two thousand or more.”
The Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, near New York City, has so far administered about 5,000 doses of the vaccine, Maron said. However, according to Maron, the hospital can deliver 3,000 doses a day, in part thanks to a partnership with Teaneck to set up a vaccination center at a community center.
According to a post on Teaneck’s official website, 570 residents received the vaccine locally on Monday. Due to the “lack of vaccine available,” wrote community administrator Dean Kazinci, the website will be closed on Tuesday – an example of the supply problems Maron referred to.
“Holy Name Medical Center is waiting for additional trays of the vaccine to arrive mid-week. We will post additional information as it becomes available,” Kazinci wrote.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Holy Name website will also inform visitors that the hospital is not planning any Covid vaccination appointments “at this time” due to availability restrictions.
The rollout of Covid vaccines in the US has been slower than officials had hoped. According to the latest available data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 12.3 million doses had been administered as of Friday. 31.2 million cans were distributed.
President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office on Wednesday, has vowed to accelerate the introduction of the vaccine, with a pledge to deliver 100 million doses in 100 days. On Sunday, Biden’s election to head the CDC said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, she believes the US would have sufficient vaccine supplies to meet the target.
“It’s going to be a tough lift, but we’ve got enough to do that,” Walensky said on CBS ‘Face the Nation.
Covid hospital stays
While Covid vaccinations are crucial in limiting the effects of the disease, Maron warned that the U.S. coronavirus outbreak is a current threat. On Tuesday, the death toll in Covid exceeded 400,000, just over a month after 300,000 deaths were recorded. This is based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Maron said Covid hospital stays at Holy Name Medical Center are not at the level of the pandemic as they were in March and April. The hospital now has better treatments for patients too, he said. Still, he said a worrying aspect was the age of the patients who were hospitalized with the disease.
“It’s not who you would think,” said Marron. “They’re mostly people between the ages of 45 and 65, so these aren’t the frail elderly people everyone was talking about. They’re the ones who work on the ventilators, so we were a little worried.”
He said it was not clear what caused the hospitalizations among younger U.S. residents. “For us here in the industry, it’s a reminder that this is still a very, very serious and deadly virus. We shouldn’t take it lightly.”