Monday, February 01, 2021

Grinds My Gears: Vaccine Guilt / Vaccine Jealousy

A Disclosure, which might also be a clue as to bias on my part: I've already received the first of two COVID-19 vaccine jabs, so even if I was prone to "vaccine jealousy" I'd have no grounds for it. On the other hand, the vaccine I'm receiving is an experimental one, currently in its Phase III clinical trial, so 1) it could be placebo rather than real vaccine and 2) I'm also blazing the conceivably dangerous trail, not just benefiting, so fuck all y'all jealous sorts, I feel no guilt. That said ...

I know someone who has received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and has just a wee bit of guilt about it. On one hand, this person was directed to get the vaccine, and was given it by, his or her employer, as an "essential worker" in the healthcare field. On the other hand, he or she is not a person in direct patient contact, and works in a "socially distanced" office half the time and from home the other half of the time. So he or she thinks that maybe the two doses might have instead gone to someone more at risk.

I also see a lot of opinionators belly-aching about how the people who "should" be getting the vaccine aren't getting it as soon as they "should," and about how people who "shouldn't" be getting it as soon are getting sooner.

At the extreme, there are some people yelling that old "white" people shouldn't be getting it before people of color because REASONS ranging from people of color being more at risk, which may or may not be true in general, to older people having already lived enough and to payback for past institutional racism, both of which are ghoulish. More on the reasonable side of things are notes that the way the thing is being rolled out, some younger, less at risk, people are getting it before some older, more at risk, people.

The big problem, in my estimation, is that government is in general charge of the rollout, while stringently government-regulated (even where not directly government-affiliated) institutions are handling actual sticking of needles in arms. And of course, government could fuck up a wet dream and is doing exactly as well at this as one could reasonably expect.

Retrospectively, the best way to handle things would have been to let the market handle things from start to finish.

Going forward, the way to make the vaccine effort most successful would be for government to publish a policy that reads like this, if government policies were written in English:

"We're going to ship you vaccine as fast as we can. Please put as many two-dose courses as you can in as many arms as you can, regardless of age, sex, race, or other considerations, using whatever scheduling and allocation methods you find work best."

If the vaccines work, every immunized person is one less person we have to worry about getting sick with COVID-19, and possibly (this seems to be in doubt) one less person passing the virus around to those who haven't been vaccinated yet.

That is, every vaccination administered is a win, if the goal is to reduce the numbers of cases and deaths.

And every missed opportunity to stick a needle in an arm is a loss on those same criteria.

On those criteria, everything else is crap. Make it first-come first-serve and get that shit out there. No one should feel guilty who has been vaccinated, nor should anyone have grounds for feeling jealous who hasn't.

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