If you're one of the many millions of Americans who can't get a COVID vaccine, that's because Donald Trump never had a vaccination distribution plan for the country.Though COVID raged throughout Trump's last year in office, he did nothing to prepare for vaccine distribution, consider that lost time. That was just what our co-founder, David Cay Johnston, predicted three years before the pandemic began, writing that "if a virus were to hopscotch around the planet on jetliners and create a pandemic like the one that killed his grandfather in 1918, Trump would not know what to do."
Trump's criminal ineptitude and apathy crushed the vaccination effort before it could get off the ground, leaving President Joe Biden's administration with a monumental disaster.
"The vaccine program was in worse shape than we anticipated," Biden said this week, suggesting he inherited a running program. Two days earlier, his chief of staff, Ron Klain, said Trump left no vaccine distribution plan.
Because Trump did nothing COVID has killed more Americans in less than a year than all the Americans killed in World War II combat.
"The process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals to the community, did not really exist when we came into the White House," Klain said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Biden's team has hit the ground sprinting as it works to set up vaccination centers in stadiums and gymnasiums and deploy thousands of clinical staff from military medical personnel and federal agencies to administer the shots.
Among the executive orders signed in Biden's first days of his presidency were some addressing vaccine distribution. As Biden shared his plan to purchase additional vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna to be delivered this summer, bringing the total to 600 million doses purchased, he urged patience as his administration grapples with inoculating a nation against a pandemic.
"This is a wartime undertaking," Biden said. "It's not hyperbole."
Vaccinating a country of almost 330 million people takes careful planning and execution. And that goes way beyond just trying to secure enough of the vaccine – which Trump and his team royally screwed up when they rejected Pfizer's offer to purchase millions of additional doses last fall.
In addition to the actual medication, there must be a plan in place for securing all the additional supplies necessary to administer the vaccine, from syringes and needles to alcohol swabs.
There also must be a plan to ensure that the vaccine gets administered by trained healthcare personnel, which surely means providing training for additional personnel for an effort of this scale.
On top of that, there must be meticulous records on the city, state, and federal levels noting who got which vaccine and when to ensure people receive the two-shots currently required for inoculation. In Phoenix, some residents who volunteered at inoculation sites and were given the first vaccination shot, couldn't make appointments for the second dose because no records were kept. After the Arizona Republic broke that story the state fixed the problem.
But confusion, fear, and pandemonium rage from coast to coast as hoarding and uneven distribution have left states unprepared to vaccinate the public. A Wild West mentality has taken hold, including hoarding supplies that have been distributed.
Case in point, Philadelphia let college students with little to no healthcare background distribute vaccines. The city tapped a start-up, Philly Fighting COVID, run by self-described "college kids," to set up the first and largest mass COVID vaccination site in the city. The results were shambolic, with seniors in tears as appointments were not honored, and unsupervised teenagers instead vaccinated each other and took selfies, according to The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
There's even talk the 22-year-old CEO pocketed vials of vaccine. Philadelphia cut ties with Philly Fighting COVID and prosecutors say that they are chasing down "concerning" allegations.
On the left coast, things aren't much better. California's slow and disorganized distribution efforts have led the government to outsource statewide vaccination distribution to private insurer Blue Shield of California, according to a story by Los Angeles Times. Blue Shield spent more than $1 million on Gov. Gavin Newsom's 2018 election and nearly $1.3 million in recent state lobbying efforts.
Kaiser Permanente, a health maintenance organization (HMO) that provides services for more than 9 million Californians, will run a separate program for its members while assisting the state effort.
And in a recent virtual panel, members of the American Medical Association (AMA), discussed the disappointingly slow efforts to get the 'vaccines into arms' at the state level.
Because Trump did nothing COVID has killed more Americans in less than a year than all the Americans killed in World War II combat. That's Trump's legacy.