Role models and a saboteur

To: My Least Favorite Person

On my blog, I gave yesterday’s letter the title: “A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it still won’t lead to just indictments of killer cops.” It’s longer and way clunkier than my usual letter titles, but it said what I wanted to convey so I went with it.

This morning I’m betting (and hoping) that another picture will do its intended work better than any thousand words could, and that is the picture of Mike Pence getting his first Covid-19 vaccine. I feel super weird writing anything positive about Pence, but I actually do think that he and his wife, Karen, getting vaccinated on live television was a terrific public health move given how many anti-vaxxers are evangelical Christians. Adding these images of the Pences stepping up is building on the strong messaging sent by having Sandra Lindsay, a Black ICU nurse, be the first person in the US to be vaccinated (and I learned today that a 96-year old woman veteran was right behind her – how cool is that?!). And then there’s Roy Dunlap, the Director of Environmental Services at Howard University Hospital, who is also Black and who got the vaccine asap to show his largely Black and brown staff that it was safe to get it.

Obviously the reasons that the two groups (White evangelical Christians and the Black community) are skeptical of the vaccine are wildly different – the former stems from paranoid conspiracy theories and the latter from actual horrible intentional medical practice perpetrated against their community. These different histories clearly need to be considered in the public health messaging going out to these groups and fortunately it seems that somebody is on it. Lindsay and Dunlap are wonderful vaccine role models for understandably mistrusting Blacks, while Pence is the consummate conservative evangelical Christian who’s demonstrating that getting the vaccine makes more sense than putting one’s health (and the public’s health) “in God’s hands.”

I’m 100% sure you had nothing to do with any of these choices, but it’s wonderful that someone in the higher ups has their thinking cap on, and maybe even their heart in an pretty ok place.

What’s going on, though, with the vaccine doses that we heard about yesterday that seem to be stuck in the Pfizer warehouse because the federal government isn’t having them shipped out to states as promised? I just checked and the most recent update was 8 hours ago from the online tabloid, TMZ, and they’re saying that Pfizer is saying they have millions of doses of vaccine sitting on their shelves because you all haven’t told them where to send them. And the WP article about this yesterday said that several states, including mine (WA), reported that the number of doses promised for next week on the vaccine dashboards mysteriously dropped by 40% (both WA and ME reporting this percent shortfall).

It’s pretty f*cking surreal that even on this, you all can’t or won’t get it right. Yes, it’s great that Pence got poked and that key frontline-workers are stepping up and getting vaccinated on camera, but why screw around with getting the goods out to the states? This is still on your watch, dude. And looking at your official daily schedule from this past week it sure as shit looks like you would have had plenty of time to make sure that your administration is nailing it on vaccine distribution. Apparently not, though. Hmm.

What gives? Seriously? I’m sure there are plenty of underlings you can (and will) blame, but are you trying to undermine the vaccination program? Do you hate us all that much? Or are you pissed that most (I think, I hope) states are focusing on equitable, rather than equal, vaccine distribution so that after healthcare workers get their doses, the communities hardest hit by Covid will be up next? Are you doing this slow roll because Black and brown people are being prioritized? Is that it?

Sadly, it almost certainly is it.

May we be safe from racist jerks.
May we be willing to put those most at risk at the head of the line.
May we be strong and brave while we wait our turns.
May we accept that none of this is going to go smoothly for about 33 more days.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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