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    Better COVID-19 Vaccination Policy: Stick it to’em!



    by Thomas L. Knapp

    As the federal government and state governments around the country roll out their COVID-19 vaccination programs, problems real and imagined abound.

    The real problems include bottlenecks caused by limited availability, stringent storage requirements, and, most of all, the confusion and scheduling snafus that inevitably accompany large-scale mobilizations of resources.

    The imagined problems boil down to belly-aching about how those who “should” be getting the vaccine aren’t getting it as soon as they “should,” and about how people who “shouldn’t” be getting it as soon are “jumping the line.”

    At the extreme we hear claims that old “white” people shouldn’t be getting it before people of color for reasons ranging from the former being more at risk to older people having already lived enough and to payback for past institutional racism, the latter two of which are ghoulish. More on the reasonable side of things are complaints that some younger, less at risk, people are getting it before some older, more at risk, people.

    Disclosure: I’ve already received my first jab and will go in next week to get my second, but I’m not displacing anyone else. I’m participating in the Phase III clinical trial for a new vaccine that hasn’t been approved yet. You’re welcome.

    The biggest real problem is water under the bridge:  Governments always do things more expensively and less efficiently than markets. The Food and Drug Administration held up approval of the first vaccines for unnecessary months, and government inefficiency is almost certainly holding up your shots for unnecessary weeks.

    Retrospectively, the best way to handle things would have been to push the state aside and let the market get this thing done quickly and cheaply. But instead of listening to anarchists like me, people just went along to get along yet again and are likely to continue doing so for some time.

    We’re stuck with the worst possible way of doing things. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make the best of it.

    How DO we make the best of it? If government policies were written in English, we’d look for something like this from President Biden and 50 governors:

    “We’re shipping vaccines to hospitals and doctors and pharmacies as fast as we can, and ask them to put as many two-dose courses as they can in as many arms as they can, regardless of age, sex, race, or other considerations, using whatever scheduling and allocation methods they find work best.”

    If the vaccines work, every immunized person is one person less likely to catch COVID-19 or pass it on, and puts us one step closer to hopefully achieving herd immunity.

    Every vaccination administered is a win, if the goal is to reduce the numbers of cases, reduce the numbers of deaths, and hopefully bring this ugly era to an end.

    Every missed opportunity to stick a needle in an arm is a loss on those same criteria.

    Let’s stop letting jealousy over the ages, sexes, and races of the arms in question get in the way.

    Thomas Knapp -- Photo Credit Avens O'Brien

    Photo by Avens O’Brien

    Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


    The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal


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