Starbucks drafted in to help Washington's mass vaccination roll-out

Need an extra shot with your Cappuccino? Starbucks to help vaccinate people in Washington State

Would you like a frappuccino with your vaccination? Starbucks makes an unlikely ally to Washington's goal of 45,000 jabs a day

(L) Starbucks (R) Jay Inslee

An unlikely ally has come to Washington’s side for the vaccine rollout, better known for their skinny Frappuccinos.

Starbucks has assigned 11 employees to help with the logistics needed to meet Washington’s goal of administering 45,000 vaccines a day against COVID-19.

Would you like an extra shot with your vaccination?

Gov. Jay Inslee has also enlisted Microsoft’s help, which will set up a vaccine site to carry out 5,000 vaccines a day. Two thousand pharmacies have also stepped up to help the state with the enormous goal of vaccinating the population.

Can a vaccinated person still spread the disease?

This question is complicated because the answer lies in our immune systems, which are difficult to predict. Once infected — or inoculated with the vaccine — the body will develop antibodies to target the virus, a process which can take between 3 to 5 days.

As one expert Dr. Michel Nussenzweig explained, “it’s a bit of a race between the immune system and the virus,” and your ability to spread the disease depends on how much virus you are producing. Much is also still unknown; for example, the extent of the role of the “T-cells.” In influenza, the T-cells embedded in your lungs and nasal passage directly reduce the infection. Whether this is also the case in COVID-19 is uncertain.

1.6 million Americans have been vaccinated out of 330.8 million.

The Trump administration promised that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of 2020. Another promise that belongs in Trump’s mysterious black hole — alongside a health care plan. Since the two vaccines were approved one month ago, 12.2 million people have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Only 1.6 million are fully protected with both doses of the vaccine. There are 330.8 million Americans to inoculate.

Get in line behind Starbucks.

Inslee had called for a “complete mobilization of resources” for the vaccine rollout in Washington. He compared the challenge to World War II when the state built the Liberty ships for the nation. “We reached production levels that no one could imagine because we set ambitious goals,” he said.

The Democratic Governor has acknowledged the state underestimated how long it would take to vaccinate all the health care workers. Moreover, fewer people initially signed up for the vaccine than hoped, reflecting the growing nationwide “anti-vax” movement.

Will the vaccine remain effective as the virus itself evolves?

This question dominated headlines as new strains of the virus emerged in South Africa, England, and Brazil. Scientists have expressed confidence that the current vaccinations will protect against these new strains, but the virus may continue to evolve. Marion Pepper is an immunologist at the University of Washington. She explained that “even though everyone is obviously concerned about a virus evolving, your memory B cell responsiveness also evolves over time.”

Interestingly, your memory B cells can not only remember an infection. They can randomly create new antibodies to combat a new strain based on similarities to previous ones. Of course, some viruses can evolve beyond recognition — hence the need for a new flu shot every year. While the coronavirus does mutate slower than the flu virus, whether the memory B cells will adapt enough is unclear.

Individuals 65 years and older can start getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Of Washington’s total population of 7.6 million, a mere 31,581 have had both doses of the vaccination against COVID-19. From this week, people over the age of 65 can receive their first dose. Starbucks began discussing their collaboration on the project earlier this month.

 

No, the coffee giant will not be handing out vanilla lattes while you wait for your jab. The Starbucks employees (11 so far, but this number could grow) drafted in to help the rollout will be using the company’s computer system simulation modeling to research ways to speed up inoculations.

How long will the vaccine’s protection last?

Vaccines work by imitating a natural infection to trigger an immune response. Some diseases, such as chickenpox, can give you immunity for life. Other vaccines require a boost to ensure the immunity will protect against future infections if the memory B cells fade. With COVID-19, scientists have seen patients with immunity for months, but the virus is too new to predict precisely how long it will last. Stephen Jameson is an immunologist at the University of Minnesota school of medicine.

“The good thing is there would be the opportunity that if it turned out there was some waning of the immune response,” he said, according to NPR. “Then, like many other vaccines, maybe … you get another booster after a year or something.”

Trump’s stockpile of the second dose turned out to be non-existent.

Several Democratic governors have complained that the Trump administration misled them about the stockpile of the second vaccination dose. Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to vaccinate 100 million Americans in 100 days. Inslee joins many in expressing greater trust in the Biden administration to deliver the vaccines.

I’m confident we’re going to have a much better relationship,” Inslee said, according to NBC News. “That the federal government is not going to consciously deceive us like the last administration did. And so I feel very good about our federal partnership moving forward.”

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