Skelton: It shouldn’t be that difficult to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine

Skelton: It shouldn’t be that difficult to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine
Skelton: It shouldn’t be that difficult to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine
The Postal Service delivers mail to our homes virtually every day. Why couldn’t the government provide us with vaccines as well?
Cities collect our garbage as we roll onto the sidewalk. The water agencies send someone to read our meters so they can bill us.

Why couldn’t a government vaccinator – or a health care provider they have a contract with – knock on the door with a COVID-19 vaccine and put it in our arms?

Of course, the inoculator would have to be a nurse – or a medical assistant – perhaps accompanied by a security guard.

It would be very costly. But so are the federal government’s multibillion-dollar pandemic relief programs that are already depleted, just passed, and still on offer. No one in power seems to care about the mounting mountain of national debt.

Until the vast majority of us get vaccinated, tough times will continue in much of the country, including restaurants and other small businesses. For many, the cost of business and job losses is intolerable.

“If we get 70% to 85% of the country vaccinated – say by the end of summer, in the middle of summer – I believe when we get to the fall we will be approaching a certain degree of. normality, ”said Dr.Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, told White House reporters last week during his first press briefing on the Biden administration.

“It won’t be entirely normal, but I think it will take the strain off the American public.”

It’s not really good news that it will probably take most of the year to get enough people vaccinated.

“We did not get into this mess overnight, and it will take months to turn the situation around,” President Biden said as he signed 10 executive orders to assert his control over the fight against the pandemic.

OK, maybe home vaccine delivery is the stupid fantasy of an impractical naïve – one who grew up, however, in an era of home doctor visits that worked very well.

The government has delivered mail throughout the history of the country and has had ample time to fix the problems.

But all governments – federal, state, and local – had 10 months to plan for a better vaccine delivery system than we have now. In some communities, it works well. In others, it’s confusing and chaotic.

Everyone knew that the only cure for the pandemic was a vaccine. Well, we have two – and more are probably on the way. But governments and suppliers are bogged down trying to get the vaccine into people’s arms.

Websites that people are directed to crash. Or they are not navigable for the average mind. The phones never receive an answer and do not take messages. If reservations are made, too are canceled.

I know four people over the age of 75 who have been vaccinated. Three did it fairly easily through their counties – Fresno and San Luis Obispo. The fourth, in Santa Clara County, encountered an awkward vendor website and gave up. But she did know a retired nurse who guided her to a shot.

I rummaged through a complicated Sutter Health website while trying to enter a reservation in Sacramento County – and made my way. My granddaughter took over and landed me a Sunday night slot in adjacent Yolo County. I received a Moderna vaccine and set aside time for a second vaccine.

In California – as in many states – vaccine rollout has been extremely slow.

Hundreds of thousands of doses have been left on shelves despite the public’s desperate search. Trying to make sure all doses were used, Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded immunization eligibility to people 65 years of age and older, an age group that accounted for about 75% of COVID-related deaths. 19 across the country. Then the telephone lines were flooded by the elderly and became inoperative. And the websites crashed.

The biggest problem seems to be a serious shortage of vaccines. Local health officials complain that they received only a fraction of the doses they requested from the federal government.

But no one in Sacramento seems really sure about anything. Senior officials complain about the accuracy of data collected by an inefficient system rather than focusing all of their energy on immunizing people.

The data? To paraphrase the late singer Kenny Rogers, there will be enough time to count when the plans are completed.

Newsom has been widely blamed, especially by Republicans trying to recall him. In large part, that’s because he prepared for failure by taking on the leadership torch in a California pandemic – as he should have done as governor. But Newsom’s edicts have often been contradictory and confusing. And he promised too much.

A dilemma for any governor of California is the geographic diversity of the state. “One Size Doesn’t Fit All” isn’t just a cliché. California has 61 local health departments with different operations.

“A lot is done by counties, a lot by vendors, a lot by pharmacies,” says Anthony Wright, who runs Health Access California, a Sacramento health lobby, and sits on Newsom’s vaccine advisory committee.

“Moving California is like moving a steamboat. Only, it’s not really a steamboat, it’s a flotilla.

Biden brings some relief to Newsom. Unlike former President , who tried to avoid fighting COVID-19, Biden is going into battle. He even invoked the Defense Production Law to speed up the manufacture of vaccination weapons.

“For a nation waiting for action,” Biden proclaimed, “help is on the way.”

So maybe Newsom is off the hook. But probably not.

He should definitely consider home delivery, especially for us seniors. Enlist the help of the new president.

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