Today marks the end of the COVID public health emergency. For close to three years, you have labored to save lives and protect communities, and we want to say thank you. Today offers an opportunity to reflect upon the work we have done together, and to begin our journey forward.
It seems fitting to begin with an acknowledgment and remembrance of the over one million people who have lost their lives in our country during this pandemic. Words are not adequate to describe the incalculable loss.
While our losses were great, we also feel immense pride for your work and leadership on an unprecedented vaccine campaign to help end to this devastation. When we began, close to 3,300 Americans were dying every day. The day before the vaccine launched, AIM sent a message to all immunization program managers noting that your work would make history. And it has.
Since December 2020, you have supported the administration of 675 million doses of vaccine. You have reached over 270 million American residents – 80%- with at least one dose. This domestic effort has saved more than 3.2 million lives and over $1 trillion dollars. This will go down in history as one of the greatest public health campaigns.
We recognize that getting to this point has not been easy, and the work is not over. Rampant politicization and misinformation have prevented us from reaching everyone we need to. Exhaustion and burnout are constant threats. The environment you have worked in is not conducive to good mental health and this has not been adequately acknowledged.
As we turn to a new phase in the ongoing fight against this virus, AIM recognizes the need to support and promote a resilient workforce. As one of our steadfast partners often says, “Please don’t suffer in silence.” So please let us know what we can do to help as we emerge from this emergency phase. Let’s move forward by re-committing to caring for one another as we continue to care for our communities.
We chose the words ‘move forward’ deliberately over the phrase ‘move on.’ We know the environment for immunization programs is radically different from three years ago. The critical task before us is to restore trust in public health and to return to the high rates of routine vaccinations needed to protect all communities. This will be balanced with efforts to maintain access to recommended COVID vaccines and adapt to changing and unpredictable circumstances.
Another critical task before us is to delineate the lessons learned from this emergency and make sure they are put into policy to improve preparedness for whatever is next. Our nation is already repeating the cycle of panic and neglect that followed previous emergencies. We must find a way to break this cycle. AIM will continue to advocate on your behalf and incorporate your feedback into our approach.
The world has experienced an unprecedented mass trauma and it is our duty to remember all that has been lost. We thank you again for your work. We recognize and honor the historic achievement you’ve made in vaccinating our communities. And we commit to moving forward, together.
All the staff at AIM