At first, it was easy to brush off complaints about COVID-19 vaccine distribution on a certain “I-want-it-now” impatience in our society.
It was easy to blame it on a perception that Donald Trump was mismanaging the crisis. But there’s a new occupant in the White House, one who first promised a million vaccines a day and 100 million in his first 100 days.
When a reporter asked President Joe Biden if that number actually wasn’t much different than the 939,000 administered the previous week, his response was, “Come on, gimme a break, man! It’s a good start.”
Says who? Certainly not the 96% of Missourians who have not received at least one inoculation. That’s the lowest percentage in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Buchanan County, 3.2% of residents had received at least one vaccine dose as of mid-week.
Perhaps the public is guilty of some unrealistic expectations in assuming that FDA approval of vaccines would lead to a swift return to normalcy.
But last is last (not a very good license plate slogan) and there seems to be a rising level of justifiable frustration, especially as vaccine availability expands past front-line health workers, nursing homes and law enforcement. The vaccines are now available to a broader category of the public — those 65 and older as well as people with weakened immune systems. That happens to be a population at great risk of COVID-19 complications, so demand is far outpacing supply.
But frustration is outpacing demand, especially in the way that vaccine sign-ups, at least up to now, resemble a mad scramble for a limited number of concert tickets. You can imagine older residents of our area — or possibly their children — feverishly refreshing phones, laptops and PCs to see if slots are still available. It’s not an arena show but their well-being, possibly even their mortality, that’s at stake here.
During the pandemic, educators raised concerns about students who lack access to internet and computer technology, and rightly so. Has anyone considered that not every elderly person in this county has Wi-Fi or a child with an laptop who is able to walk off the assembly line in order to set up a vaccine appointment?
Maybe this would be easier to accept if there was a better understanding of who’s ultimately responsible here — the feds, the state, Pfizer or the local health department or hospital — and an acknowledgement that the rollout has been rocky and things need to get better.
If you listened to Gov. Mike Parson’s state-of-the-state speech, you would think that all Missourians are rolling up their sleeves this week — for a second shot. Some of us might have had a Biden moment when we heard his lavish praise.
“Come on, gimme a break.”