Vaccines have always seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic. We spent months knowing that scientists were working hard to develop them, and that thousands of brave volunteers were participating in clinical trials. It seems now like nothing short of a miracle that we have two highly effective vaccines approved in the US with several other promising candidate yet to be approved.
The giant caveat to this, of course, is that vaccine doses cannot be produced quickly enough to keep up with demand. The fact that the vaccines currently approved in the US require two doses further complicates issues (not looking a gift horse in the mouth, mind you--I'm very grateful for any vaccines we can have!).
The solution has been identifying higher priority groups who should be vaccinate first. Unfortunately, we do not yet have enough doses even for these groups. With limited doses and sky-high demand, it feels that the vaccine roll-out has degenerated into a complicated free-for-all.
I think Scott and I can serve as a very small case study of some of the things that can happen with determining vaccine eligibility and actually receiving the shots. We both live in one district and work in schools in another. As people working in K-12 schools, we have been placed in a higher priority group to receive vaccines. Scott works for this district as an employee; I work for them as a contractor.
The whole business of working for them as a contractor has been the root of a lot of aggravation. When this district first partnered with a local hospital to provide vaccines, I only found out through Scott because I am not included on all of the email distros. In theory, we would be able to sign up and use our employee badges as proof of employment. As a contractor, for reasons I cannot even begin to understand, I have been issued a badge designating me as a volunteer.
On a side note, is there anything that will give parents more confidence than thinking that an unpaid volunteer is diagnosing and treating their children's communication disorders? But I digress.
At that point, I contacted HR to ask for a letter confirming that I work in the schools. They initially refused to help me, but ultimately relented when I escalated the matter up the chain. So, I had my letter, and Scott and I both initially had vaccine appointments for tomorrow.
Then the hospital that was supposed to vaccinate us ran out of doses last week and cancelled appointments. I don't know how that happened, but I'm guessing the mythical national vaccine stockpile may have played a role in their miscalculation.
A couple days later, they got more doses and issued invitations for people to sign up for appointments. Except...Scott received one and I didn't. I escalated this up the chain again, and this time they were a lot less helpful ("dismissive" is really the word that comes to my mind). I'm happy to say he has an appointment tomorrow, but concerned that I don't.
In another email that I didn't get as a contractor (and Scott showed me), the district where we work said they would send an email to employees who were not invited to reschedule vaccinations to confirm that they still wanted the vaccine and then take next steps. My question at this point is whether I (as a lowly contractor, rather than a high-fallutin' employee) will actually receive this email, or whether I will be completely shut out of the process. As of now, as someone working in a school, my only option is for the district where I work to arrange for me to be vaccinated--I can't just take my letter confirming I work in the schools to a local pharmacy and arrange for an appointment that way.
So, the past few days have been an emotional rollercoaster for me, one that I suspect will continue for some time. I know I'm not even in the worst position. There are people who, in my opinion, are in risker occupations than mine who have not even been invited to start the process yet. But I dream about the day when vaccine supply is no longer an issue and all of our hopes aren't centered around being able to receive shots.