Decision Jeopardizing Business Model for the Vaccine Mega-Sites

Given how chaotic last week was, it might seem like the decision to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults happened a few weeks ago- but it was just a week ago tomorrow.

It looks like what happened is that the ADHS observed that the demand for vaccinations in the 55+ year-old group had waned quickly. Ever since December, any appointments that had been released by the state were snapped up in a matter of minutes (which presented big problems for underserved communities, but I digress).

But over last weekend, appointments just sat there on the ADHS website – suggesting that demand among the eligible groups has waned quickly. Their response was to open up eligibility to all adults, an announcement that was made on Monday.

The county health departments are accustomed to finding out about policy changes on the Governor’s twitter account or in an ADHS media release…  but in this case some of the county health directors got a text 9 minutes before the policy change was announced, so that’s an improvement.

There’s some merit to going to an age-based system… but the problem is that Director Christ made no accommodation for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities before this policy change – and now folks in that category need to compete with four million other adults for those appointments (see our blog from last week). At least they qualify for a vaccine now.

Note: By expanding eligibility to all adults this quickly, the ADHS is jeopardizing the business model for the vaccination centers. Vaccine PODs (including the ones organized by the state) rely on volunteer labor.

One of the key motivations to volunteer is that one gets a vaccine at the end of the shift. Now that all adults qualify, I expect to see fewer persons to self-present as volunteers because now they can simply make an appointment without volunteering.