As 2020 came to a close, this publication stated that the one thing 2021 needs is a plan.
Imperfect as it may have to be, Connecticut in particular and the country in general need some sense of structure when it comes to what the future will hold. Big questions about everything from the economy to education are being asked, and some guideposts need to be erected to let people know what to expect.
Never was that more apparent than when discussing the rollout of the vaccine.
Last week, Chesprocott Health District began administering the first doses of the Moderna vaccine to members of the community. Chesprocott has been on the frontlines of this pandemic from the very beginning, trying to help keep people safe and informed, often while attempting to decipher for themselves what exactly the state does and doesn’t expect in terms of community compliance.
Chesprocott will be, for Cheshire and surrounding communities, the tip of the spear when it comes to the vaccination process, so it is a bit unsettling to hear that, as of now, officials at the Health District remain unsure of exactly who will be eligible for the Phase 1B of the vaccine distribution, or when that might begin in earnest.
Now, in fairness to everyone in Hartford trying to plan for this vitally important rollout, the situation is evolving quickly. Just a few months ago, the idea of a widely-available vaccine coming on the market before the beginning of 2021 would have been dismissed as wishful thinking, but nothing short of a modern medical miracle has produced not one, but multiple viable vaccines, ready to be administered to the public as we speak.
Setting up proper protocols and making sure that those who need the vaccine the most get it first is not as simple as making a list and distributing it to local health departments. This is a complex process, and there’s a rush to get it done.
But having said that, there should be at least a workable template in place at the moment for all of the vaccine phases expected in the coming months. The state should be able to inform Chesprocott and others about who will be eligible and when, not only to allow Chesprocott to plan for the distribution, but also to give individuals in the general public a basic idea as to when they can expect to be eligible.
We know who is getting the vaccine right now — first responders, medical professionals, and those at most risk of suffering serious medical complications due to COVID. That’s how it should be. Few would argue with the most vulnerable, and most exposed, being first on the list.
After that, however, things will get more complicated. And while much has yet to be determined about how vaccinations will impact everyday life, already some are suggesting that everything from freedom to travel overseas to the ability to return to certain office work environments may be tied to inoculation.
As such, people need to know what to expect. Given someone’s age, relative state of health, or current occupation, their access to a vaccine may come in a matter of weeks or may not arrive until sometime in the late spring. Letting people know now whether they can expect their shot before St. Patrick’s Day or before the Fourth of July is more than just a matter of convenience. It will help people plan important aspects of their next 12 months.
Chesprocott needs answers, as does the rest of the state. It won’t be fair to the already overworked, short-staffed members of Chesprocott to ask them to adapt to this process on the fly. And it won’t be fair to average citizens if we expect them to start planning their next few months without knowing where they stand on the vaccine list.
It’s still early in 2021. There’s still time to get those guidelines in place and inform everyone of the plan. But the plan needs to be devised quickly.