At least now there is a plan.
After the fatal, anti-science, criminal chaos of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the nation is finally seeing a belated but potentially meaningful approach to combating COVID-19. Informed people who actually care that hundreds of thousands of Americans have died, and that perhaps as many more will die, are hustling to put our best options to work. There is a lot of catching up to do — the Trumpies left things in much worse shape than anyone imagined.
President Biden has launched an ambitious program to vaccinate millions of Americans against the coronavirus. It’s so ambitious that some believe it is audacious, overreaching for the sake of political optics. Others think it might not be enough. Either way, it is a genuine effort with an imperative goal.
Washington state has come up with a priority system for administering the vaccinations available here, depending on supplies and delivery systems. For the record, I am in group 1B, tier 1, over age 65. I earlier tested negative and am trying to schedule a vaccination. Still to come on the vaccination timeline are those who fall into tiers 2, 3 and 4 — people at progressively lower risks.
But the state plan fails in one respect: it doesn’t take into account the deniers, hoaxers and anti-vaxxers who have stubbornly stood in the way of common sense or for that matter, common compassion for their fellow citizens. Let’s call them tier zero — as in, nowhere on the schedule.
If you think the coronavirus is fake, or kind of like the flu, or originated with the Biden campaign, or is an elaborate ploy to make doctors and drug companies rich, or if you buy into any of those ludicrous conspiracy theories, here’s the deal: You don’t need a phony shot for something that doesn’t exist. So please, don’t get in line. Or get out of the line and leave a spot for someone who cares if they live or die, or cares even more about who else lives and dies. Make way for people who understand that the coronavirus is real and are taking responsible measures to combat it.
Yes, deniers, now is the time to stand up for your disbeliefs! Keep that freedom fighter banner waving. Celebrate your ignorance. Keep on sneering at the people lining up for the precious shots. Flaunt your me-and-only-me principles. Prove that you’re willing to die for your hypocrisy and right to be ignorant. Stick to your guns — um, wait a minute. Forget the guns part. We’ve seen enough of that from the seditious fringe. You see what I’m getting at.
If you think the vaccine itself is some kind of mass poisoning scheme, get out of way. If you have ever refused to wear a mask where it’s required, or hassled anyone for wearing a mask, step aside. If you are a business owner who defied the COVID operating guidelines, please give priority to your customers, so they can live to patronize someone else. Throw a massive, unmasked party for all your vaccine-free friends. If you’re one of those harrumphing politicians who question and/or inhibits the state’s best efforts to get us through this nightmare, show your constituency what you’re made of (a caveat: others may have a less flattering term for what you’re made of).
Of course, I’m being (mostly) sarcastic, which sometimes has to be explained to the irony-impaired. If vaccination is to be as effective as possible, everyone who is eligible should get the shots, as quickly as the schedules allow, no matter what their circumstances. So if the deniers and hoaxers want to get in line — you know, just in case they’re wrong about the pandemic — we should all be OK with that. Participation is ultimately what matters. We should not begrudge anyone.
I had my annual physical last week. My primary physician has had both rounds of the vaccination regimen. The large clinic where he works has been almost infection-free. He was, for a while, a COVID care volunteer.
His advice was unequivocal: wear a mask for as long there is any concern about contracting the coronavirus. And get the vaccinations as soon as possible. Maybe, some months down the road, if you and your household are at least two weeks post-vaccination, you might consider inviting a few similarly situated people over to your house without being masked or distanced. Maybe. Until then, find your place on the priority chart and join the vaccination queue. And give everyone else in line the benefit of the doubt. It’s the healthy thing to do.