Feb 15, 2021
If the goal of the vaccine was to stop the virus and protect the population, it would have made sense to have a national public health agency organize its distribution. Such an agency could have set up vaccination sites around the country, hired nurses and support staff, sorted the population by risk factor, and kept track of who had gotten which vaccine and when.
But where would the profit be in that?
Instead, a private company, Deloitte, got a 44 million dollar no-bid contract to develop software that all states could use to manage vaccine rollouts. Except the software is so bad, many public health departments have abandoned it altogether.
Then, every state was given its own share of vaccine doses, to do with as it would. So of course, every private company lobbied every state to get as large a piece of the vaccine pie as possible.
In most states, giant private companies got contracts to administer the vaccine. CVS, Walgreens, Walmart—all of them get a chance to make a buck off this. And of course, to maximize their profits, they minimize staff.
This was evident already in the disastrous rollout of the vaccine in long-term care facilities, which was largely turned over to CVS and Walgreens. Even though they were supposed to be first in line, by mid-February, residents and staff at many assisted living facilities were still waiting for their first shot. The only exception? West Virginia, which organized the vaccination effort itself, mostly using small independent pharmacies. It had given the first round of vaccines at all of its 214 long-term care facilities by December 30.
For those outside of long-term care, these companies aren’t even keeping track of who they have vaccinated in an organized way.
They are not even required to keep track of vaccine waste. The New York Times reported instances where 15 or 20 precious vaccine doses were thrown out after every session.
Short-staffing can lead to other problems—in some sites, a single nurse is expected to administer both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, both first and second shots, and do all the necessary paperwork. On a project of this scale, that means there will inevitably be mistakes.
On top of that, in many places there is no centralized sign-up site. People sign up wherever they can possibly get the vaccine, at each hospital, pharmacy, supermarket, and clinic. Not only is this a massive amount of work, it means that each of these vaccine distribution centers has a clogged line of people. Once again, it throws responsibility for dealing with this public health emergency on each individual. And of course, it gives an advantage to those with time, money, and education.
As with everything else in this country, the vaccine rollout was organized to maximize profit, not human life. And the result has already been thousands more needless deaths.