Professional wrestlers, ski instructors and Zoom shrinks: if they can get the COVID vaccine, where’s mine?

This is the question on the lips – and in growing concern – of millions of impatient New Yorkers who are not yet eligible or cannot make an appointment or otherwise find themselves ready and willing but still unable to secure the appointment. under-supply COVID-19[female[feminine vaccine.

It’s good that all these others are vaccinated. But what about me?

“I hear this question all day,” said Dr. Arthur Caplan.

Of course he does. This is what happens when you are the founding chief of the division of medical ethics at New York University School of Medicine and the internal bioethics guru for the NYU Langone healthcare system. People ask. Many people.

According to the New York City Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker – yes, there is such a thing – 1.677 million Pfizer PFE,
-1.30%
or Moderna mRNA,
-2.41%
the doses were administered as early as Friday morning. But in a city of 8.3 million people, where the current inoculation regimen requires two injections, that still leaves a large number of unstinged arms. And no one thinks the sliding eligibility system, as it unfolds, was rational or fair.

“The vaccine rollout has been a horrible mess, and it undermines people’s confidence,” Caplan said. “When we started we had a national agreement that we were going to try to prevent deaths because we knew that was what the vaccine was doing. We did not have data on preventing the spread.

So many of the first doses went to patients in nursing homes and then to healthcare workers. “You can’t overthrow the health care system because that would only cause more deaths,” Caplan said. But good intentions quickly collide with a process that gets out of hand.

“Some hospitals have started to vaccinate everyone with any connection to the health facility, which means you can get the vaccine even if you are undergoing psychotherapy in Montauk and you do not see anyone in person,” a- he declared. Soon donors, board members, and other connected people stepped forward. “Hey, I’m kind of a healthcare worker,” they said. Then the politicians started to include their friends. Before you knew it, professional wrestlers and ski slope attendants were rolling up their sleeves.

At the same time, there was the sudden appearance of surplus vaccines. “A lot of these places started to vaccinate their buddies or the people they had dragged into the streets. I’m not saying it was wrong. They had no direction, but it wasn’t fair, Caplan said. “And in a few cases people threw away the vaccines, which was even worse. “

Who could feel loyal to a system like this?

“When people saw this mess, they started to wonder, ‘What about me? I would like to have a surplus of vaccine. Can I line up at Yankee Stadium? Can I line up in Florida even if I am a snowbird? People just started breaking the rules. And that’s where we are now.

Dr Arthur Caplan

Courtesy of Dr Arthur Caplan

Add in a few more big wrinkles – the way the internet skews access to the wealthy and tech-savvy, the easier it is for people with the money to find their way to remote test sites – and the recipe is ripe for it. resentment, jealousy and a dash of class warfare. Caplan said, “Do you really think a poor mother with three kids in a tiny apartment with a crappy internet is going to beat me in the front row?” Probably not.”

And good luck with state and local governments coming up with subtle plans that rank the relative needs of school teachers, UPS UPS,
-1.52%
drivers, baristas and supermarket clerks.

The good news, according to the medical ethicist, is that more vaccines will be available soon, including the unique Johnson & Johnson JNJ vaccine,
-0.28%
version getting emergency approval now. “Stay in isolation, in quarantine, at a distance and mask for another two months is all I ask,” said Caplan. “Give me another two months and we’ll get you vaccinated.” There will be vaccines for anyone who wants them. This is not the biggest problem.

The biggest problem ?

“The biggest problem is how are we going to respond to all the people who say, ‘I don’t trust them. I do not want it. I do not know.’ We have never addressed resistance, hesitation and doubt.

Also see: As New York City’s COVID-19 variant spreads, mayor promises Johnson & Johnson vaccines by March

And there are a lot of them out there. In some of these first-round nursing homes, the thank-you rate was approaching 50%.

“If healthcare professionals say ‘no’ half the time,” said Caplan, “we need answers for people who ask, ‘Is this going to make me infertile? Are they experimenting on me? Do you think they went too fast? No! But you have to take care of all that. You can’t just spread a shingle and expect everyone to come running. They won’t.

Ellis Henican is a New York-based author and former newspaper columnist.

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