Since the beginning of the pandemic, the American public, as well as the world at large, has been desperate for a glimmer of good news. On top of the political divisions and growing unemployment, the case numbers and death toll have continued to climb. Yet, the vaccine rollout signifies the beginning of the end.
The rapidity with which the vaccine was developed is a true marvel of science and technology, but the pressure of the pandemic should not fall on the researchers and scientists who helped create the vaccine. A government that refused to enforce any legitimate lockdowns or effective pandemic-curbing behavior, paired with a unbelievably selfish population, has exacerbated the effects of the pandemic.
Now, an ineffective government and remarkably stupid population are also responsible for the endgame. Early indications point to a bungled vaccine rollout, undercut by an inability to convince the public to take the vaccine, paired with a decentralized and confusing system that doesn’t seem to understand the urgency with which this vaccine needs to be delivered. Though the federal government set a goal of 20 million doses delivered into arms by the end of 2020, we sit at just 10.6 million people who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and that about 1.6 million people have been fully vaccinated.
It is easy to simply direct blame at the anti-vax movement that long predates the pandemic, but the asinine rules and regulations set by governments at the state and federal level means that doses of the vaccine have gone to waste. Once the vaccine is thawed out for use, it only has a short shelf life. Though common sense would dictate that demand for the vaccine would be sky-high, the reality is that a significant portion of these vaccines end up in the trash. There is surely enough demand to administer the doses — hospital officials know that — but the government’s demand to follow their predetermined order means that what demand remains goes unanswered. In fact, states have doled out fines for administering the vaccine to those who are not currently qualified to get the doses, as if having more vaccinated people on the street is somehow bad.
The vaccine isn’t going to be required by our government and as we enter the second half of January, only essential workers and the elderly even qualify for the opportunity to receive a dosage. This slow process, with seemingly no urgency from the government, means that our path back to normalcy is as quick as the will of the American public, an entity that has undermined the knowledge of experts and passed on even the simplest prevention methods. When the general public is able to get vaccinated, will they? Do we have any reason to put our faith in the same people who still try to enter stores without masks, attend large gatherings, and spread misinformation about the pandemic?
If we are to properly inoculate the American public, we need to attack this virus like we are at war. We need thousands of vaccination centers and a campaign that actively promotes the vaccine. I hesitate to advocate for a mandatory vaccination requirement, but feel that these inoculations should eventually be required to reenter schools and other public places, with the obvious exceptions being medical. What we are doing now isn’t enough, and we will continue to pay the price.
Ben Borrok is a School of Communication junior. He can be contacted at [email protected] If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected] The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.