March 19, 2021
New Orleans It seems almost impossible to believe that one-year after the pandemic virtually shut down the whole country and a good part of the world that we have not one but a handful of available vaccines, and yet we’re still caught in ongoing vaccine drama-rama. In a worldwide crisis, we seem unable to get our stuff together. Meanwhile, ironically, virtually everyone I run into, talk to, or hear about is ecstatic about getting the vaccine and gleeful about reporting on first shots, complete dosages, and even their place in line for appointments. What the frick?!?
The worst of it seems to be the continuing ineptness in the 27-country European Union in getting the job done. Less than 10% of the population has been vaccinated, compared to the US where we are not close to 25% with 75 million having the shots. Talking to our head organizer in the United Kingdom, his appointment was just moved back another month. Concerns over AstraZeneca’s vaccine causing clots in a few cases have forced the EU regulator to once again verify that it is safe, even as several countries paused giving the shots completely. The EU gets the press, but obviously Asia and Africa are a whole different story, as is Brazil, which is trying to set a new record for deaths and much of Latin America, where there just aren’t vaccines available and few that are in the pipeline and coming.
The US is not a paragon of perfection here. Reportedly, 40% of essential healthcare workers are still not vaccinated and a significant number are resisting. Classifications of priority workers is a patchwork quilt between states based on logistics and distribution differences. In Louisiana, 90% of the population is now eligible by most estimates and the list of essential workers given priority as well is now longer than my arm all the way down to hospitality workers, critical to many local communities. States are open, semi-open, semi-closed, and god knows what else in the weird federation of America, while airline traffic is rebounding and some carriers are indicating that they may include your vaccination status in your preflight travel data with your security and passport data. None of which stops daily headlines where someone like Republican libertarian Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and vaccine expert Dr. Fauci are still sparring publicly about masks and protocols still and President Biden is accusing some governors of Neanderthal thinking.
We can’t walk straight and chew gum over vaccines, but we also now have vaccine diplomacy. Israel played at that game and had to pull back because it was giving away doses to buddy countries and not allowing vaccines in its occupied territories to Palestinians. That doesn’t stop Russia and China from moving in that space. Or, the US as it turns out, given the announcement that we are shipping millions of doses to Mexico to try to induce them to help on the border, and also to Canada for who knows what reason since they had ordered enough doses for all their citizens to have four or five shots per two arms.
We sure better learn something from this pandemic and the vaccine drama-rama, because we wouldn’t want future generations to follow our lead down this maze of mayhem and misunderstanding.