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Virginia continues to struggle to get COVID-19 vaccine rollout right

Virginia covid-19
(© Ingo Menhard –

Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Virginia is expected to ramp up this week, but then, this is an effort already several months in the making, and here we are.

The Tuesday update from the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine dashboard has the state at 104,083 doses administered, from among the 481,550 doses that have been distributed statewide.

The state’s population, pending the final count in the 2020 Census, is around 8.5 million.

The prioritization schedule for vaccine distribution has 500,000 people – primarily frontline healthcare workers and residents in long-term care facilities – first in line to get the first of the two-shot vaccine.

Three weeks in, then, we have almost enough doses out and about to get Round 1 in the books, but we’ve only got about 20 percent of the work done.

And then, bigger picture, we’re barely over 1 percent of the overall population.

Which is to say, we’ve barely even started.

“While we have made good progress, every state in the country is working through the type of initial logistical challenges we would expect for a project of this size,” Alena Yarmosky, spokeswoman for Gov. Ralph Northam, said in a statement to the Times-Dispatch in Richmond for a story published Monday.

Which is fair. Virginia is definitely not the only state struggling to get the vaccines out and into arms.

You have to ask the question – why?

And you want to give as the answer – Trump – but the truth is deeper than him being a modern-day emperor Nero playing the fiddle while Rome is burning to the ground around him.

Even the most detailed plan coming down from a hyper-organized federal initiative would rely on states and localities to do the heavy lifting.

To that line, Virginia announced back in October that it had committed $22 million in CARES Act funding to create a statewide plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccines.

This was Oct. 23 – a nearly two-month head start.

Issue could be raised with why this wasn’t in the works before Oct. 23. The vaccine trials were well under way, and in fact the final numbers that would become public shortly after the Nov. 3 election that would signal a go for vaccine rollout were basically sitting in queue ready to be lifted into the light of day on or around that Oct. 23 date.

How is it that these efforts weren’t in the works back in the summer, even as far back as in the spring?

Let’s hope it wasn’t because there was a political fight over President Trump promising dating back to the early days of the pandemic that there would be a vaccine before the end of the year.

You remember this: Trump touted the vaccine, and Democrats resisted, and insisted that the vaccine promised by Trump wouldn’t be safe.

Did this political slapfight delay planning for the vaccine rollout?

Another question: did the politics sow the doubt into the populace that we’re seeing reflected in media reports telling us that an uncomfortable number of frontline healthcare workers are refusing to take the first dose of the vaccines?

The public-relations aspect to the prioritization schedule putting frontline healthcare workers at the top of the pyramid was based on the assumption that this population, dealing with COVID-19 on a daily basis, having seen the worst of what the virus can do, would jump at the chance to get vaccinated, helping ease whatever fears would be out there among the rest of us and get positive momentum going forward.

Is it the case that months of smacktalking the vaccines as a political stunt from Trump to try to win re-election are coming home to roost?

We don’t know that.

We don’t know why it was into October before we started planning the rollout of a vaccine that we knew for months was coming.

All we have are numbers.

Those pitiful numbers.

Word is that Northam is going to ramp up his Facebook Live talk show on Wednesday to talk vaccine rollout.

It had better be a somber occasion with mea culpa as the overriding tone, because what we’ve seen in Virginia to this point has been a clusterfuck.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press