A Slow Road

Vaccine distribution is the hottest topic on the streets right now. Back in the old days, 2019, I would have said it was the hottest topic in the coffee shops or around the water-cooler at work, but since the coffee shops are all currently closed and hanging around the water-cooler is considered a ‘super-spreader’ event, older people are now hanging out on the streets with their take-out cups, discussing the hot topic. Needless to say, the teenagers are none too happy with the geriatric invasion of their turf.

Am I eligible yet? Where do I get vaccinated? Which vaccine will I get? Are there actually any vaccines in the country right now? These are current conversation staple-questions being asked. We’re not the United States or Britain, where there has been and endless stream of vaccines and they have been able to get a larger percentage of their population at least one dose of a vaccine. In Canada we don’t actually make any vaccines, so we’ve been seeing them arrive from foreign manufacturers in small bursts. 700,000 doses this week, 0 doses next week. We’ve even green-lighted one vaccine that isn’t due to arrive until May! The government’s trying to procure every dose it can. We’ve thrown out wads of cash and made massive commitments to purchase more doses than our country will ever need, we’ve even said please!! But it has been pretty much in vain, because all I see is a dribble coming our way.

I get it. World-wide production capabilities are finite, and there is some serious demand for the stuff. I never once envisioned there was some vaccine tap, that could magically be turned on to supply the world with 15 billion doses of protection overnight. There are no vaccine breweries out there, with monster vats, fermenting gallons of brew. Vaccine manufacturing plants are pretty small, and their equipment is relative. Pharmaceutical production plants were never built to handle college keggers! Have you seen the size of the bottles that a vaccine comes in??!! A million doses of vaccine are the equivalent in quantity, to a six-pack and a pint of JD! Small is what these companies do.

I always expected that getting vaccinated would take some time. But it’s sad when the weekly supply for our nation, can fit into a panel van. The dribble Canada does receive is broken up by population, and spread around the country. My area gets a half full Styrofoam cooler every week. Vaccination is getting done slowly, for most people too slowly.

Adding to the delay are the logistics of moving and administering the doses, and deciding how best to inoculate the population. From what I have read, most countries have taken the same approach. The most at risk and those that treat them, frontline medical, was where they began. After that there is an age approach, older people go first. The arguments started when the first doses arrived in my area. No one could dispute frontline medical; they all have paperwork and are easy to identify by the dark circles under their eyes from over-work and lack of sleep. But determining exactly who was high-risk involved a lot of screaming and whining. Elderly residents in group homes were deemed more at risk than an even more elderly person living in their own home. Indigenous people, a group that comprises more than 30% of my local population, were all put to the front of the line but those living in remote communities got to be further in front. The number of people with underlying conditions is insane. Every one seems to have so kind of problem that puts them at higher risk. There are so many of them around me, I’m surprised most of them aren’t dead already!!

My provincial government declared they were ready to get the job done as soon as vaccines arrived. Make your appointment right away, as soon as you qualify, they told us. We’ll be ready to get those vaccines in your arms in large numbers, we were all assured. Last week on the local news they showed a line of seniors in wheelchairs and standing with walkers, waiting outside to get the vaccine at one of the government mass vaccination sites. They all had appointments! Why were they all waiting outside?? The line went all the way around the block! What’s the problem with this picture??!!

The government knew exactly how many doses they were getting that week. They announced there would be an increase in the number of appointments. They made the appropriate number of appointments for the citizens at the top of the list. They told these people where to be, and when to be there. Of course, being from a generation where being late got you fired; they were all there 15-minutes early. But that aside, the wait time was stretching to four hours!! What went wrong? It seems that the government had left one important part of the plan out, they forgot to schedule the medical people required to administer the doses!! It’s kind of important!! These seniors aren’t crack-heads!! They don’t know how to inject themselves!! Can you imagine?? Some 90-year-old with palsy trying to load his own syringe! The stuff would be everywhere!! We’re not getting enough that we can afford that kind of waste!!

I empathetic to how tough it is to organize something like mass inoculation. There are a ton of moving parts. But still, you would expect better from a group being paid big bucks to do just that. You would think staffing would be pretty high on the priority list! Some one out there deserves an ear-full!! You left hundreds of slightly crippled, and most certainly arthritic, elderly people out on the street!!! It was 4 degrees outside!! You didn’t even serve them coffee!!!

Sometimes, you need to think outside the box. This I believe was one of those times. I think there was a way to do mass vaccination and also get people to abide by health restriction. We should have considered making the vaccinations mobile, like ice cream vendors. Make people stay home and the vaccination will come to them. Street by street. Staying home would also help contain virus spread. Since people would be home waiting for the vaccine van to come down their street, they wouldn’t be wandering around infecting each other. It’s a two-fer!!

The rules would be simple, if you want to get vaccinated stay home and wait until they knock on your door. No age restrictions, if 5 people live at the address, 5 people get vaccinated. You could even use actual ice-cream trucks; they already have refrigeration! Peddle a ‘Dickie-Dee’ cart up under a bridge and take care of all the homeless people sheltering there, then peddle away to the next shelter. The frontline workers who were doing the inoculations might even enjoy getting away for their institutions for a few hours. Get some fresh air and a little exercise, healthcare people like that sort of thing.

You could skip the paperwork as well. Since every one in the world needs to be vaccinated and governments are picking up the tab, what’s the real need for clerical? Those could be re-deployed to drive the ice cream truck. Use a fingerprint scanner that is on virtually every cell phone to register the recipient of the vaccine. Scan a person’s thumbprint and if the result says they haven’t been vaccinated, give them a dose! They can give any name they want; it won’t matter because a fingerprint is unique, and will tell the ‘Dickie-Dee’ doctor to jab or not jab. Law enforcement already has a fingerprint data base with the ability to access information quickly, just expand its storage. It’s got to work better than the ‘COVID Alert’ app!!

There is one caveat though, if you decide to leave home on the day that they inoculate your street, too bad for you. You now have to book an appointment and go stand in line at a vaccination super-site… don’t forget your lawn chair, and a blanket. Oh yeah, I almost forgot… bring your own coffee.



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