How To Vaccinate

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on

When are you getting the COVID-19 vaccine? Have you been told? Does it seem like it is taking too long?

I am way down the list. It will be summer when I get the shot. Doesn’t seem to make any difference whether I get it in Canada or Germany,

I’m not a high priority. I’m not old enough, or have enough pre-existing conditions. Mind you, my wife has a 97-year-old aunt who won’t be vaccinated until early March – despite the elderly being a priority.

It seems a shame to give a great idea away for free, but I am going to do it anyway. I’m also confident no-one will pay the slightest attention.

Most countries seem to have problems with getting COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of citizens. Canada keeps dropping down the list. Last time I checked, we were 38th in the world in vaccinations per capita, but a friend tells me we are actually 50th. Germany is 26th.

Some of the Canadian woes may be due to supply issues. That’s a political hot potato and a discussion for another day.

A large part of the problem though is that societies have botched the process of immunizing their people. Once again our leaders made an emotional response rather than using simple logic.

We have prioritized the vulnerable and the elderly. Health care and essential workers are high on the list. That makes the most sense from an emotional perspective.

But logistically it makes no sense at all. In some ways, it seems to me, it just prolongs the pandemic.

Vaccinating an entire country is not a public health problem but a matter of logistics. Given the number of retired military generals hired by Canadian governments to oversee the vaccination process, I think the governments understand that. But they haven’t taken it far enough.

Since the plan is to vaccinate the majority of the population, anyone who wants the shot, then the current method of prioritizing recipients is inefficient and wasteful. It might make medical sense to first vaccinate the most vulnerable, but that means slowing the process down.

This week, for example, we vaccinate everyone older than 90. Next week it is those over 80. Or those who are left handed. The criteria doesn’t matter – the point is it is a piecemeal approach.

Would it not be better to just vaccinate a community all at once, and then move on to the next one? Wouldn’t that be faster? In the long run, wouldn’t a faster rollout of the vaccine save lives?

It strikes me as easier to vaccinate a large number of people at once, rather than turning people away because they don’t fit this week’s target demographic. There have been a lot of news stories in Canada about people jumping the queue. I understand the outrage at that – but any system of distribution is going to have perceived inequities.

Given that, why not vaccinate the populace in the most efficient manner, regardless of whether the people getting the shots are in the highest risk category? In theory the more people you vaccinate, the fewer cases of COVID-19 you will have to deal with. Which makes faster better, even if it leaves some people who are at-risk in that category a little longer.

We ask our leaders to make hard choices and consider everyone, not just one group or the other. This seems much more common sensical than the current procedures.

Which may be why it won’t be implemented. Politicians are suspicious of anything labeled common sense.

Or maybe I’ve completely misunderstood what is necessary to get the vaccine to people. Is that possible?

What do you think of the plans to vaccinate people where you live? Do you see any way it can be done better?

It takes time and energy to figure out who gets their shot and when, who is vulnerable and what the pricking order should be. There’s an effort being made to ensure people don’t jump the queue and get their shot early.

It is a monumental task to vaccinate a country, or at least those citizens willing to be vaccinated. Millions of people, millions of doses and a hundred thousand or more workers.

Canada optimistically expects to finish its vaccination program in eight months. That won’t happen at the current rate, though the Prime Minister seems reluctant to acknowledge that.


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