July 25, 2021

Miller-Meeks says U.S. should take note of the speed of vaccine development

It’s ‘truly remarkable and ‘nothing short of miraculous’ vaccine was produced in nine months

U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks says it was “nothing short of miraculous” a vaccine for COVID-19 was produced within nine months. It’s one of the most important lessons to be learned from the pandemic, and “needs to become part of our national dialogue and part of our protocols.”

“If you know the vaccine system, (if) you know the development system, this is truly remarkable that we were able to do that and with the level of effectivity that this vaccine has,” Miller-Meeks told Newton News Friday, April 2 during a visit to Medicap Pharmacy in Jasper County.

Pre-funding the vaccine development was critical, she added. She also credited former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who chaired the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and “all those in research, pharmacy, our research institutions, our doctors” for propelling its success.

With Pfizer recently announcing 100% effectiveness for children ages 12-15, Miller-Meeks is hopeful the younger populations — who she said are more mobile and want to get together — will start to receive their vaccinations, too. The congresswoman says the vaccine is “liberating,” something to celebrate.

“We were in Muscatine and one of the gentlemen there said, ‘You can take your vaccine card and you can get it laminated at Staples.’ That’s how important it is. That’s how significant it is,” Miller-Meeks said. “… Really, it’s liberating and a return of our freedoms.”

There are other lessons to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic. Miller-Meeks, who was enlisted in the military for 24 years, is familiar with after-action reports, which she suggested are relevant in the health care field as well. The United States, too, can reflect on what was done well and can be done better.

“We know that we have to diversify our supply chain,” Miller-Meeks said. “We need to have manufacturing of personal protective equipment and the testing reagents, testing components back here in the United States.

“… (Another thing to improve on) is how we do our strategic national stockpile. And we need to revamp that working with states, working with manufacturers.”

REASON FOR NEWTON VISIT

Miller-Meeks, who represents Iowa’s Second Congressional District, is traveling from county to county to review the vaccine rollout progress of local public health offices. The congresswoman is discovering from these visits that coordinations between public health and other entities are prevalent.

“They’re doing drive-thru clinics, they’re doing one site at manufacturing, they’re in schools. But I think the hold up for us in Iowa right now is getting more doses of vaccine,” she said. “…We’ll send another letter to HHS and Secretary (Xavier) Becerra talking about getting more vaccine doses to Iowa.”

It’s also great to see people be willing to come in to clinics to get vaccinated, Miller-Meeks added. The risk of contracting any vaccine side effects is low, she said, and any long-term side effects have not been identified. Receiving

“If the CDC were to come out and say that, ‘If you got vaccinated you don’t have to wear your mask (because) the science and data indicates that,’ I think even more people would get vaccinated,” Miller-Meeks said.

Traveling from public health department to public health department is bringing back memories of Miller-Meeks’ time working as the director of Iowa Department of Public Health. One of the things she had spoken about on the chamber floor was the funding in President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 package.

Specifically, the fact that less than one-half of 1 percent of that funding went to the public health workforce. Miller-Meeks said the package could have supported county public health departments through non-competitive grants. Looking at the pandemic now, Miller-Meeks expects testing will decrease.

Especially as vaccinations increase and Iowa gets closer to herd immunity.

For those who are hesitant to receive their shots, Miller-Meeks said the studies and evidence show the vaccine is safe. Miller-Meeks feels it is a personal responsibility to be vaccinated. The congresswoman wants Iowans’ liberties to return and to be able to gather without masks.

“And I never want to see another senior pass away without having their family near,” Miller-Meeks said.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.