Observations on COVID-19 Vaccine Priorities

By | February 6, 2021

[February 6, 2021]  Two days ago, I attended a Vietnam War veteran’s funeral.  The turnout was about 35 people, family, and many older veterans who knew him.  A good number of attendees, in my estimation, given that we are in the middle of a pandemic.  We were curious why vaccinations were so few in our state.  In this article, I give some of my thoughts on our vaccine priorities and distribution problems.

The priority about who receives the vaccine first has led to several controversies over fairness and necessity.  We are told that those who are most at risk from the virus’s effects would be first in line for the vaccination.  This is only fair, of course.  Yet, this idea never translated well into formal policies or practices.

“There’s dozens and dozens of these stories, and they really show that the rollout was a complete disaster in terms of selling fairness.  It wasn’t that we didn’t have consensus (on who should go first).  We didn’t pay attention to logistics and that drove distribution, not rules.” – Arthur Caplain, head of the medical ethics division at the NYU School of Medicine

I have no particular crystal ball to look into the future about this pandemic or about how well or not the vaccination process will work out.  Nevertheless, I can see what is happening, and here are some observations:

  1. Vaccine priorities are overly intricate, lack clarity, and some states impose stiff penalties for health care centers that provide the vaccine to the “wrong” people.
  2. People are self-identifying as essential workers to improve their chances of getting a vaccination earlier. There is an over-emphasis on “self-identification” and this gives rise to unfair deception.
  3. States distribute vaccines to counties for distribution based on 10+ year old census data but have misallocated these products, creating undercounts and overcounts.
  4. State priorities are changing, sometimes daily. This has led to more confusion and the wasting of vaccine doses.
  5. Some states are giving higher priority to criminals, smokers, GITMO terrorists, and illegal immigrants than the average citizen who works for a living and the elderly. Furthermore, politicians and spouses are in the top priority regardless of age or risk factors.
  6. Distribution problems occur primarily in politically Democrat states such as California, New York, and my state of New Jersey (where I live). Republican states like Alaska and West Virginia have the highest vaccination rates.
  7. Hollywood celebrities and other nefarious characters pay bribes to get themselves and their families ahead of the line.

This is a classic case of large bureaucratic bumbling.  Large organizations are designed to do many tasks, massively and quickly.  They are very good at doing so.  What these organizations cannot do, without superb leadership, is to do anything well when the ground rules change.  That has occurred with the pandemic, and it should come as no surprise that all governments are struggling to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.

Moral choices exist, and many are not happy about those decisions.  Some claim that politics drives vaccine priorities and distribution systems.  If that is true, we are in trouble.  A reckoning is coming for those in the political system who are refusing to introduce fairness in a time where it is of utmost importance.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

27 thoughts on “Observations on COVID-19 Vaccine Priorities

  1. Anya B.

    It doesn’t take much to screw up in a bureaucracy and there is, of course, no ramifications for the screw up we see in states who are failing to do a good job of distributing the vaccine. They just blame it on the federal govt and the fed govt under pres. Biden blames it on past Pres Trump. Typical socialist bureaucracies, they are never at fault.

  2. Jeanette James

    The Veterans Administration is doing a far better job of distribution than state governments. Why is that. Good for our Vets.

    1. Dannie from Ireland

      New York, New Jersey, and other blue states are like the Keystone Cops.

    2. Deplorable John

      This is indeed good news that the Veterans Administration is doing a much better job than the states getting the vaccine out.

  3. Shing Chang

    Gen. Satterfield,would you write on your observations about the recent elections in the US? We all would appreciate it. Thx.

    1. Mr. Teal

      I would like to see HOW the election was stolen from President. Trump.

  4. Steve Dade

    “2. People are self-identifying as essential workers to improve their chances of getting a vaccination earlier. There is an over-emphasis on “self-identification” and this gives rise to unfair deception.” This one I’ve seen for myself.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      And the teachers who are not teaching are some of the highest priorities for getting the vac. What’s up with that?

  5. Don Snow

    This is the kind of article that I come here to read. For me, it is essential that I read what leaders are ‘thinking’ and having this forum is also helpful. 😊

    1. JT Patterson

      As a long-time reader and forum’s contributor, I agree with you. We all come here to be educated and a little entertainment along the way is also okay.

  6. KenFBrown

    Loved your article. Wish you could write more with your insights. Thank you, Gen. Satterfield.

  7. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    I have no doubt, in concert with British Citizen’s comment below, that racism is a factor because under Pres Biden, he is putting into place many leftists (extremists in my book) into government that should never be there. He is just a figure head and I’m still not sure who is running the country. To ask him a question, it must be submitted in writing … so that someone else can write his answer and so he can them read said answer. More than a bad situation when the US President cannot even have a thought and express it freely.

      1. Judy Altermann

        Yes, his philosophy is to claim credit for what goes right and blames anyone else for whatever goes wrong. Typical politician and socialist. 😃

  8. British Citizen

    While Britain does not have the best system in Europe, it is far better off than all others in the EU. We are better because we don’t have to abide the rules of the EU bureaucracy that hampers production and distribution. And, even though America is doing better, I can still witness cracks in your system. I even hear of politicians that seriously consider giving the vaccine to racial minorities over the general population. We call that racism.

  9. Eduardo Sanchez

    Great article and observations, Gen. Satterfield. Good job. These are, naturally, scary scary scary. Or, as my daughter says, ‘scary spice.’ 😊

    1. rjsmithers

      A girl after my own heart. Even a child can see that the system set up and in process is not working well and that favoritism has been injected into the system like happens when big government gets its hands on something. You would think by now that senior leaders would know this.

      1. Pink Cloud

        Nope, they can’t see it and they will blame others repeatedly for their own failures.

      2. apache2

        Unfairness is built into the system with a façade of fairness built over it. If you question their motives, you get shutdown in our new “censorship America.”

        1. Jeff Blackwater

          Yeah, censorship is new and most of the lemmings accept it because they believe in govt solving all their problems.

  10. Doug Smith

    Hmmmm, well said, Gen. Satterfield. You certainly nailed some great observations. Some are shocking, some we’ve all seen (cheating), and some who allowed them to happen deserve to be ridiculed publically.

    1. Ronny Fisher

      Yes, and the ‘cheating’ part – that Gen. Satterfield called getting ahead of the line – is a real problem with both the Hollywood crowd and our politicians who put themselves ahead of those of us at higher risk.

      1. Audrey

        But, aren’t they more important than us from flyover country? /sarc off

      2. Rev. Michael Cain

        He He., you got that one spot on, Ronny. They should be shamed but, of course, there is no shame in someone who thinks of themselves as superior and thus more important than the masses. Reminds me of communism and the most fundamental criticism of that system — the very system we are headed for.

    2. Linux Man

      Good point, Doug and others. This is so sad that our govts despite having lots of time and study are still screwing up their priorities and the distro system.


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