The rollout of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine was badly bungled by the federal government, and the problems are reverberating in Maryland and into Frederick County.

We hope the vaccination program will be the Trump administration’s final failure in battling the coronavirus pandemic. The president downplayed the severity of the virus, politicized the wearing of masks to curb the spread, promoted fake “cures” and abdicated responsibility for providing guidance for state and local governments. The death toll has passed 400,000 Americans, and now, we have this mess.

Senior citizens, rightfully fearful of perishing from the dreaded disease, are especially anxious. Many are trying anything they can think of: filling out forms on the county Health Department website, contacting their doctors, exchanging tips with friends, and waiting for announcements about when and how and where the vaccines will be available.

Gail Fineberg, 81, of Frederick, told News-Post reporter Greg Swatek that she has been faithfully logging onto the Frederick County Health Department’s website for almost a week trying to set up an appointment for her and her husband, Todd, 75, to be vaccinated but without success.

“I have been perfectly happy to wait for a year,” Fineberg told our reporter. “But, when it’s promised, it’s the inability to deliver that is frustrating.”

The federal government poured billions of dollars into helping scientists at drug companies develop the vaccines in record time, giving hope to the millions of Americans trying to fend off the disease.

But it made no plans to get Americans vaccinated. Once again, state and local governments were told, in so many words: “You’re on your own! Good luck!”

Ezra Klein, an opinion columnist for the New York Times, said it best:

“But vaccines don’t save people; vaccinations do. And vaccinating more than 300 million people, at breakneck speed, is a challenge that only the federal government has the resources to meet. The Trump administration, in other words, had it backward. The development of the vaccines meant merely that the most logistically daunting phase of the crisis, in terms of the federal government’s role, could finally begin.”

Sadly, Maryland and other state and local governments have not proved up to the task yet. With no clear federal direction and without sufficient financial aid, the vaccination program has lagged.

Less than 10 percent of the vaccines needed in Maryland have even been received. As of Monday, only 255,110 of the 551,700 vaccines received had been administered, according to the state.

So, there is not enough supply and no good system for getting it to residents.

And yet, Gov. Larry Hogan announced last week he was expanding the pool of people eligible to get the vaccine. Anyone over 75 could be vaccinated starting this week, and anyone over 65 could get the shot next week.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner expressed her frustration.

“Intended or not, the governor’s announcement of expanded eligibility groups has left an impression that vaccine was available to advance these eligibility groups,” Gardner said in an email to the News-Post.

The failure to create a workable system has exacerbated frustrations.

“Because the state did not implement a pre-registration system, the county government is working to develop one,” Gardner said. “Because the state did not set up a call center to help seniors and people without internet access to register or schedule a vaccination appointment, the county government is standing this up too.”

All right, folks, let’s try to stay calm. We know it is frustrating, but we encourage everyone to keep the faith and stay strong in the fight against the disease.

Eventually, the vaccines will be administered, we will defeat the virus, and life will return to something resembling normal. It has been terribly slow, but we will get through this.

(13) comments

bpswp

I become eligible on Monday. I have registered through FHH and the health dept. I am on a waiting list.

jth7100

We have got to do what we must do.

Francine9

Both political parties have been so caught up in their pissing match that the important issues fell by the wayside for a while. Trump got the vaccines manufactured but left the details of distribution to the states, who are obviously ill-prepared to administer the vaccinations... then he blamed he states. Biden made magnanimous promises promised obviously before he gathered all the information. Politics first... then Americans.

bosco

Quid Pro Joe is already backpedaling in his big plan to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days. Now he's saying 100 million shots for 50 million people. CBS news quoted him as saying:

"Biden says he is "convinced" 100 million people can be vaccinated in first 100 days"

sevenstones1000

Biden inherited a mess. Trump did not order sufficient vaccine nor did he and his band of geniuses do anything about the logistics of delivery and public inoculation. Like everything else, Trump just wanted his name on something.

gabrielshorn2013

Not true seven. The numbers ordered from all of the manufacturers (approximately 850 million doses) far exceeds the US population (approximately 330 million), and the percent of the population willing to take them (approximately 60% of the US population). The Federal government does the procurement from the manufacturers, and provides the vaccine to the states. The states handle distribution within their state, and the local Board of Health handles local distribution and administration within the county. Currently there are only two manufacturers approved by FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), and that was just at the latter half of November. There are at least five other companies whose vaccines will soon receive an EUA, but they are still in phase III clinical trials. Biological drug products take time to manufacture, in FDA registered and inspected facilities, and no amount of political rhetoric or foot stomping will speed that up. Pfizer and Moderna (and their contract manufacturers) are working as hard as they can to produce vaccine doses and get them to the public. While you cannot administer vaccines that you do not have because they are still being manufactured, our local Board of Health failed to take their responsibilities seriously, and fell flat on the critical administration phase. It is time to reorganize the Board of Health, and put folks in place who already know what they're doing, and don't have to wait for instructions from the State or Federal government.

BTW, these same manufacturers are expected to make billions of doses of these vaccines for administration around the world. This is no small task, and their ability to get as far as they have this fast is unprecedented.

Greg F

Gabe, we are still learning the depths of the lies and lack of planning and active sabotage Trump has done. Both Birx and Faucci have come forward to state that there was an alternate data set that Trump used for his basis on making decisions that they did not put out. Hmmm....we already know he tore up the pandemic plan he first said didn't exist. We know he lied about things very early on and changed his story continuously depending on who was the audience, and flopped around like a dying fish on mask wearing. That there are not the doses he said there were and did his best to NOT make a Federal roll-out, this is ALL...100% on Trump that things are as f-d up as they are and nobody can accurately say when doses will show up. Trump lied, 1000s died. It's really that simple. Thousands more will die thanks to his gross negligence and dereliction of duty. You can stop making excuses for him any time now.

gabrielshorn2013

I stand by my statements GregF. The vaccine supply is slowly ramping up as the manufacturers and their contract manufacturers crank out lot after lot. The feds have sent out over 40 million doses to the states, but only half have been administered. Why? The states are holding back for second doses even after CDC said that was not necessary. It is, and always has been the states responsibility for health issues, including vaccination. BTW, the one dose J&J vaccine will be under EUA in a couple of weeks, so available supply is expected to double. Once again, the speed at which these vaccines have been developed, put through clinical trials, and approved by FDA is unprecedented. We went from several years, to several months.

DickD

Within a half hourall vaccination slots were full and you were put on a waiting list for God only knows how long.

DickD

Correction, I got a appointment.

chris

[thumbup][thumbup]

threecents

Congrat's Dick. My in laws got their vaccinations today at the health dept. They were in and out in 20 min.

chris

My dad got his yesterday at the Butterfly Ridge location. In and out in under half an hour. Very orderly and well-managed. People have been too hard on the local authorities; sure they have had a few missteps, but they are nimble and have corrected them. The biggest problem now is simply getting the doses.

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