This is simply a thought exercise. Obviously I’m not in charge of anything. I’ve been thinking about the vaccine distribution quite a lot lately, and it seems to me that maybe people would be less stressed about it if they realized there are so many different models, so many different ways of getting things done.
I also realize that people tend to have mightily irrational yet deep-seated feelings about things that have a logical answer, like boarding planes or late merge, and that queuing lights up a nasty part of our brains.
Jealousy is so much worse than envy - when we’re not just envious of something that someone else has, that we want for ourselves, but on top of that, we also think we have more of a claim on it. Envy plus possessiveness. Things get icky.
The first thing I would want would be for the vaccine to be distributed as quickly as possible, and the second priority would be zero waste.
It seems like a higher priority in the US is to make sure the distribution is perceived as not being corrupt. That nobody is taking cuts. This is where I would put it out there that there are other ways to frame this thing ethically, and that there are even multiple ways to frame what constitutes “fairness” in this context.
I think the first people to get the vaccine should have been every single person who works in any vaccine production facility.
For some mysterious reason, this probably strikes that note of corruption that so bothers Americans. For me, though, it’s a question of sanitation. I like the idea that everyone making the vaccine is already vaccinated themselves.
Second, I would say anyone who works in a facility where people go *to get* vaccinated, they also should get theirs first. That way, there is this bubble of cleanliness. If I pull up to Kaiser or the pharmacy across the street, and I have to stand in line to get my shot, I would really like to feel that I’m not going to risk getting COVID from an employee who is forced to wait until last.
If there were extra doses left at the end of the day? I would give dibs to the housemates of employees of either the production facility or the pharmacy or clinic or wherever. The bubble of cleanliness expands outwards from there.
How long could that possibly take?
It’s weird to me that stores are putting out the message that they are not giving preferential treatment to their employees. I rather wish they would!
I have a more controversial idea, one that I absolutely know most people won’t agree with, and honestly the ship has sailed. It’s too late to put my weird plan into effect.
I think it would have been a smart idea to auction off doses to the highest bidder for the first week.
Then - surprise! - a million dollars a dose to anyone who can afford it for the second week.
Then maybe drop to $100k a dose the third week, then $10k a dose to anyone who can pay it for the remainder.
There are two reasons why I think this would have been smart. Neither of them is that I could pay a million dollars for a shot, because indeed I could not. I’m patiently waiting my turn in my county where I am approximately 7 millionth in line.
The first reason I think it would have been good to auction shots off to the highest bidder is that COVID-19 was spread, first and foremost, by wealthy public figures. The jet-setters. If all those people had been broke, stayed home and watched Netflix like the rest of us, there are entire continents that would have remained COVID-free.
Therefore it seems only fair to extract massive amounts of funds from these people, these disease-spreading party animals.
I think most or all of them would have gotten themselves the shot, and also paid to get it for their household staff out of pure squeamishness. A lot of nannies, cooks, drivers, cleaning crew, maybe even landscapers would have gotten their shots early. I find that satisfying.
The first reason I said I thought it would be a good idea to ream rich people for their COVID-19 vaccines is that they are top-level spreaders. They don’t seem to have stopped traveling, or started wearing masks, so we might as well snuff out the results of their dirty habits.
The second reason is that the high prices that could have been extracted could have gone a very long way toward subsidizing vaccine programs for poorer parts of the world.
Nobody understands as well as the denizens of yachts and private jets that the world will never be safe from COVID as long as it still exists in places where people travel. That means everywhere, from Antarctica to the North Pole and back around the other side again. Somebody, somehow, is going to have to fund at least two billion people’s vaccines for them.
But what about the elderly and those with health conditions?
To that I say, yes, and what about that same portion of the population in the developing world?
A choice had to be made, due to the rate of vaccine production, to focus on either lowering the death rate or slowing the spread. We chose death rate. Time will tell whether this was actually the most effective strategy. Another way to go about it would have been to start with grocery clerks and delivery drivers, and does anyone have any statistics on how many people fill those jobs?
Gorillas at the zoo have already gotten their shots before me, and that’s okay. I’ll be among the last to get my turn in a very densely populated area. I can wait. I work from home and we get our groceries delivered. Honestly I could make it another year or two. It’s boring and annoying, not unsafe.
I think it’s interesting to do this type of thought exercise, partly because I have very little else to do these days, but mostly because this won’t be our last pandemic. The more we all get in the habit of thinking about fast, effective vaccination programs, the better organized and the better funded they will be the next time around.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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