As local people work to distribute COVID vaccines, an information vacuum emerges

Local health officials are turning to online services such as Eventbrite to improve delivery plans for the COVID-19 vaccine in the absence of federal aid or national planning.

Why it matters: With the country’s economic recovery, millions of lives depend on a quick and successful rollout of vaccines. But as people hunt for scarce information about vaccine availability and delivery procedures, the lack of coordinated communication risks opens an information vacuum – in which misinformation can be easily inserted.

Driving news: In Florida, in many counties, the event platform Eventbrite, a platform known for selling concert tickets and coordinating happy hours, is used to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Be smart: Local governments, already beset by crises and Congress’ delays in passing the latest COVID-19 relief bill, often lack the necessary resources to manage vaccine communications and coordination.

  • Many have drawn help from both online providers and pharmacies, who have better access to consumer data and are able to deploy quick, in-person information.
  • Once people have received the first dose of Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine, for example, pharmacies will be key players in helping to take the second dose after three weeks.
  • “It’s kind of falling on pharmacies,” says Chris Haynes, a political science professor at the University of New Haven. “No app has been developed for federal or state governments to ensure vaccine rollout. All of this stuff should have been planned months in advance.”

big picture: Historically, the federal government has installed systems to help local governments deploy emergency notifications such as hurricane and hurricane warnings to be broadcast on local television, as well as local text alerts.

  • But the government has not set up an emergency communication system to give local information about the vaccine, forcing citizens to turn to less reliable sources of information online.
  • “We’re going to think through systems that will reach people when they need information that is highly specialized – and in this case, time sensitive,” says Kathleen Hall Jamison, director of the Einberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania Huh. “We will need to institutionalize that structure and monitor it.”
  • “The fact that we don’t already have this is an actual indictment,” he told Axios. “We should have thought before that.”

What to see: The lack of coordinated messaging around the vaccine rollout has left millions of people searching for answers online and via social media, opening up space for confusion and misinformation.

  • Experts worry that large technology platforms, already struggling with election misinformation problems, are not equipped to help veterinarians and verify vaccine rollout information.

Of comment: Almost all experts spoke to Axios saying that the best way to deal with this problem would be a massive federal government-backed awareness campaign that would educate consumers about the importance of getting a vaccine and give them some sort of federal directory Will give instructions for To verify local resources.

  • Since the US has no centralized database with citizens’ addresses and health records, it is possible that the federal government could do the fastest job to support local governments with rollouts at this point.

Our idea bubble: Developing a vaccine was a difficult problem, but delivering it should not have been in the same league, and the US had months to work out a plan.

What will happen next: The incoming Biden administration is promising a “complete government response” after January 20, according to the Washington Post.


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