The bumpy road to immunity


Photo Courtesy/ Unsplash Daniel Schludi

Relieved, yet skeptical: This is how I felt when Pfizer announced that its COVID-19 vaccine was, at last, ready for public distribution. I am looking forward to the day I am qualified to receive the vaccine; for many — myself included — this vaccine carries the weight of a diverse set of expectations.  It signifies a return to social gatherings, and overall, a healthy society through the means of herd immunity. 

While the vaccine presents itself as a solution, we abruptly find ourselves encountering new obstacles. One year later — seemingly enough time to prepare for a solid plan that would ensure a smooth flow of vaccinations across the nation —  a major problem that seems to consistently be making headlines nowadays is the fact that vaccine appointments are being rescheduled due to  limited supply. 

Across the nation, state governments rush to amend policies that seem to change on a daily basis. Unfortunately, strict regulations can sometimes be a step in the wrong direction. In New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo established specific criteria regarding eligibility for the vaccine and those that failed to abide by the regulations would be faced with a hefty fine as a penalty.

The objective of Gov. Cuomo’s agenda was to ensure that high-risk groups remained the priority and to avoid swaying the balance toward favoring individuals with “connections.” Ultimately, this move backfired as canceled appointments rapidly became problematic; vaccination centers searched for eligible candidates before the dose was deemed expired, and if this failed, the vaccine had to be discarded.

In a recent briefing, Gov. Cuomo announced that new groups would now be eligible for the vaccine such as essential workers, however, healthcare workers and those over the age of 75 continue to remain the priority. In setting this situation as an example, it becomes obvious as to why vaccine distribution hasn’t been so efficient. 

With new strains emerging, vaccination becomes even more vital, as the behavior of the variants dangerously appears to be more easily transmissible.  According to the New York Times, “the CDC has warned that one variant, which is thought to be 50 percent more contagious, might become the dominant source of infection in the United States by March.”

In order to get ahead of the virus and create the herd immunity that we so long for, government officials must create a concrete plan that will get the ball rolling once the low vaccine supply is replenished. I believe the bigger problem lies in the way state governments manage each region; information is constantly changing, often resulting in confusion and turmoil for the public. All I can say is that we have had months to prepare for the arrival of the vaccine and the expectation was that its distribution would be efficient. At this point, the hope is that President Biden’s administration will fulfill the mission of ramping up vaccine distribution and providing a solid plan for the upcoming months.