‘Vaxx Envy’

This Doonesbury cartoon was in our newspaper today. This is one of Trudeau’s best.  I think he really nailed ‘vaxx envy’!

To say that the COVID 19 vaccine rollout has gone poorly doesn’t even begin to describe it. Again, there is a lot of blame to go around.  And there isn’t much point in assigning blame at this point.

I think the development of the vaccines this quickly is nothing short of a miracle!  But that is only part of the story.

It reminds me of a Seinfeld episode.  Jerry made a reservation for a rental car.  He and Elaine are at the counter and while they find his reservation, they don’t have a car for him.  He argues that you need to be able to both make the reservation and KEEP the reservation and keeping it is the most important part.

Applying that to the vaccine, you not only need to develop, produce and ship the vaccine, but you also need to get it into people’s arms.  And one could argue that may be the most important part!

My current frustration is that each state can make different rules regarding vaccine eligibility.  In WA, people 65 and older are eligible, among others.   In OR, teachers are the top priority right now and people 65 and older won’t be eligible until the end of February.  I have no beef with teachers getting vaccinated now, but that shouldn’t be decided on a state by state basis.

These disparities are creating ‘vaxx envy’ and ‘vaccine tourism’.  Seniors from OR want to come to WA to get their vaccines and teachers in WA want to go to OR to get their vaccines.  Since the vaccine is allocated to each state based on their population, states will likely now have residency requirements for vaccine recipients.

One of my friends likens the current hunt for vaccine to the Hunger Games.  It really is survival of the fittest – people who know how to use technology, are linked to robust delivery systems, and enjoy privilege are the winners.   A number of our hospital systems even provided ‘special access’ for eligible board members and donors.

I can only imagine how difficult this quest to get vaccine is for some people most at risk, who may be lower income, people of color, and have multiple chronic conditions.  These are the same people who may also struggle with technology and lack transportation.

I don’t have a solution, but we need to shine a light on the disparities.  States are starting to report vaccine administered by race and ethnicity, which is a start. And hopefully there will be a point where sufficient vaccine will be available for those most at risk regardless of where they live!

I am truly grateful that I have had my first vaccine, because I am over 65 and high risk.  But I also know that there are a lot of very high risk people 65+ in our state who haven’t been as fortunate, because they may not enjoy my same privileges: the ability to use technology, access to health care, transportation, etc.

See you on Wednesday,

Allene

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