“This may become an annual wellness strategy to reduce the effects of the virus as we do with the flu,” said Dr. Eneida O. Roldan, chief executive officer of the Florida International University Health Care Network. “The distribution will be decentralized for convenience and compliance.”
One constant: the challenging, but critical, public health mission to combat vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, particularly in underserved communities. Efforts to get people shots across the world will still be underway.
Dr. William Moss, the executive director of the International Vaccines Access Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, is optimistic that life will return to normal, but it will be a slow journey. The way he sees it, people will have two options: Get vaccinated. Or get sick.
“We’re not going to be able to vaccinate and immunize the world in a year, and I don’t think we’ll actually ever get rid of this virus,” Moss said.
Three outcomes are possible in fighting infectious diseases: eradication, elimination and control. Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980 by the World Health Organization, and to this day, is the only infectious disease to achieve the distinction.
Polio was eliminated in developed countries. And in 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the U.S., though travelers sometimes still bring the disease into the country, which can cause outbreaks like in 2019.
The U.S. will likely control COVID-19, which means the disease will be manageable enough that there will only be occasional cases instead of outbreaks, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, said during FIU’s annual Hemispheric Security Conference in May.
But to get there, the overwhelming majority of the population will need to be vaccinated.
“Vaccination, vaccination and vaccination. It’s as simple as that,” Fauci said. “We have been fortunate enough that we have a highly effective series of vaccines — not just one — that if we vaccinate the overwhelming portion of the population, we can get to that strict control.”
What will Florida’s role in vaccine distribution be?