Cutting in Line, Part Two

Last week I posted here and on Facebook about being disgusted by Vice President Pence and his wife receiving the covid vaccine as part of the first group to get it — after we were all told we’d have to wait our turn because the first group of people to be vaccinated would be medical professionals. Shortly afterward, President-Elect Biden and his wife also received it, as did members of Congress.

I disapprove of all politicians cutting the covid vaccine line, even politicians I support. So I posted on Facebook again, pointing out that Biden and his wife are not in the healthcare field and should also not be allowed to ignore the guidelines and get vaccinated before their turn.

A few of my friends completely agreed with me. But I was surprised at how many more disagreed. Most of them responded that government leaders are in essential jobs and should receive the vaccine first. (Not a single one explained why they consider family members of Biden and Pence to be government leaders.) But my post wasn’t about my opinion of who should be first. My post was about clearly stated government guidelines that are being flouted. A few completely ignored the fact that the post they were responding to was about Biden, not Pence, and accused me of believing that only politicians I support should get vaccinated, though they know I am a Biden supporter.

Reasonable people can disagree on who should have priority. But my post wasn’t about any person’s opinion of who should have priority. And I don’t believe reasonable people can disagree on whether it’s OK for the government to lie to us about this. We were told medical professionals would be first. Many doctors and nurses who deal with covid patients every day have not yet been able to get vaccinated; yet, politicians have. So politicians have been placed before many healthcare workers — or have placed themselves there — despite the stated priorities. In other words, the government lied in saying medical professionals would get it first. That is a fact.

If politicians were supposed to be in the first group, that should have been spelled out. Strangely, some people tried to argue that politicians are essential workers, so the government did not lie. But the CDC guidelines are very clear, and we’ve all heard it touted over and over again: the first group to get the vaccination is medical professionals. Nobody else. People in other “essential” jobs are mentioned in the priority list, but they are actually in the third group, not the first. And the essential jobs listed don’t even include government leaders.

Is the stated priority list a sham? Is there a different list, one that is not being publicized, that gives our government’s real priorities for who is expendable and who is not?

Or did the CDC design its guidelines based on sound scientific reasons, only to have politicians flout the rules and jump to the head of the line?

Either way, I’m left with less reason to trust that our government gives a damn about us. I know, we already had ample reason to feel that way about the current administration, but now it seems that the incoming administration is complicit.

People say it’s good that our leaders are getting vaccinated in public, because it will convince others that they can trust that the vaccination is safe. Largely, the people who are suspicious of the vaccine are those who have been denying the pandemic all year. Pence’s actions might sway them — though Pence has been ignoring the science all year, too, so his actions shouldn’t sway anyone who cares about facts. But these people have no respect for Biden; I don’t see why seeing him vaccinated will make any difference to them. Besides, few of them can get vaccinated yet, anyway. They are, for the most part, not medical professionals. Medical professionals already know the importance of the vaccine. By the time the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers have been vaccinated, we will have millions of examples of people receiving it safely, proof that it isn’t harmful. And that proof will come from people who actually know what they’re talking about. So I don’t see why there is any urgent reason to let Pence’s supporters know right now that it’s safe.

I guess the part that bothers me the most is that people I respect can’t seem to understand what I’m saying. That my argument is not about my opinion or their opinion of who should be first. It is about a rule that has been broken, and a very public lie to the American people.

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