Coronavirus

Here’s why one public health expert says the Mass. vaccine rollout needs to be fast, not perfect

"You can’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough and moving fast."

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Despite describing Massachusetts authorities as “committed” to distributing COVID-19 vaccines, one public health expert stressed the need for the state to “move fast,” noting that sometimes things just aren’t perfect under these circumstances.

Dr. Louise Ivers, executive director of Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health and interim head of MGH’s Division of Infectious Diseases, made this point in a recent interview with Jim Braude of GBH’s “Greater Boston.” She described the pandemic as “an absolute emergency,” with 3,000 to 4,000 new cases per day in Massachusetts and many COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.

“We’re in a crisis, and you have to move fast when you’re in a crisis and you’re not always perfect, but you can’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough and moving fast,” Ivers said. “And we have to get control of this pandemic because the dark winter that the president [Joe Biden] mentioned is going to be longer than a winter if we don’t really make some moves now that are going to help us get through the spring and summer.”

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Part of that is a balancing act between making sure there’s “orderly” distribution of the vaccine among rollout phases and reaching the most vulnerable while also “being focused on equity,” Ivers said. On the other side of the scale is speeding up the process.

“And we clearly need to go faster,” she said. “And just be a little bit more prepared for a little bit of outside our perfect. I think that’s the case.”

The vaccine rollout will be helped by the mass vaccination sites, Ivers said, like the ones at Fenway Park in Boston and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

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“We have to have multiple strategies, mass vaccination sites, we go to some people, some people come to us, we vaccinate some people at the hospital, at the clinic,” Ivers said. “There’s no just one size fits all. So I really do think that when we have large scale places, that people can come and go that are really well run, it will really help get us moving faster.”

Recently, Ivers had tweeted that the entire country shouldn’t have any COVID-19 vaccinations left in freezers by the end of each day, also asking Gov. Charlie Baker to move faster. She told Braude that many people had voiced their support for that idea.

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“We have vaccines in the freezer, and we have patients that we’d like to vaccinate,” she said. “We have vulnerable people. I did hear a lot of positive reinforcement of that idea, I must admit.”

Watch the full interview, and rate the vaccine rollout so far in our poll below: 

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