Alan Simpson: The roll-out of vaccines is shaping up to be a total shambles


If you are lucky enough to be of working age and live in Indonesia, chances are that you have received a coronavirus vaccine already.

A radical decision to vaccinate the working population before the elderly was taken by the Indonesian government, which has been widely criticized for its handling of the pandemic – something that sounds depressingly familiar.

On the premise that they are more likely to fly, socialize and spend money, it will start with the under-60s, and thus get the economy going faster.

In turn, the Indonesians are doing the exact opposite of the European countries that are first vaccinating the elderly and vulnerable in order to avoid a rise in hospital cases. It’s a fascinating contrast, and soon we’ll know which technique is the most powerful.

Regardless of the strategy implemented in this region, however, early signs suggest that a smooth and rapid implementation of vaccination is highly unlikely due to crippling bureaucracy.

Some have already been told in ambiguous terms on the list of suspected priority classes that they should anticipate vaccination by the end of May – that’s almost five months away.

Many physicians charged with prescribing the vaccines do so without having received them on their own, though their first dose has already been received by some NHS office staff.

Even the priority list is not for teachers and high school students, nor are retail employees, transport staff or delivery drivers – all of whom are on the front line. All of them are lumped in with the general population who, unless they have a pre-existing health condition or are over 50, are 10th on the list. Being just a month in and only hitting number two on the list hardly inspires confidence in the public health officials charged with protecting it.

For almost a year, Covid has been around, and yet there does not seem to be a clear strategy to ensure quick mass vaccination. Instead, more and more bureaucratic hurdles seem to be thrown in the way.

The most ludicrous of these is that retired doctors are being asked to pass 18 separate modules before they are allowed to put a needle in someone’s arm, including fire protection, dispute resolution, and radicalization prevention. In its futility, it is stunning.

Compare the present situation with that of the outbreak of smallpox that hit Glasgow in 1950. Back then, people lined up at special clinics that were set up at lightning speed for hours to get vaccinated.

Vaccinations were issued at a rate of 600 per hour, 250,000 people were vaccinated within 12 days, and just 19 days after the first case, the deadly outbreak was announced. In the 20th century alone, only six people died from a disease which killed 300 million people. It seems like 70 years later, paperwork is the only thing that has really advanced in public health planning.


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