Trump’s Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines Was No Plan at All

Vaccine clinic in Philadelphia (WHYY)

If you’re one of the many millions of Americans who can’t get a COVID-19 vaccine, know that Donald Trump never had a vaccination distribution plan for the country.

Though COVID-19 raged throughout Trump’s last year in office, he did nothing to prepare for vaccine distribution. Consider that lost time, less lives saved.

Our DCReport co-founder, David Cay Johnston, predicted this three years before the pandemic. “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,” Johnston wrote.

Trump’s criminal ineptitude and apathy crushed the vaccination effort before it could get off the ground, presenting President Joe Biden’s administration with a monumental disaster.

“The vaccine program was in worse shape than we anticipated,” Biden said this week. Two days earlier, his chief of staff, Ron Klain, said Trump left no vaccine distribution plan. Trump repeatedly said the Pentagon would distribute vaccines, but there was no plan, nor effort, to do it.

“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 hit the ground sprinting, trying to sets up vaccination centers in stadiums and gymnasiums and deploy thousands of clinical staff from military medical personnel and federal agencies to administer the shots.

600 Million Doses

Among the executive orders signed in Biden’s first days of his presidency were some addressing vaccine distribution. Biden urged patience as he shared his plan to purchase additional vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna. Delivery is expected by summer, bringing the total purchased doses to 600 million.

“This is a wartime undertaking,” Biden said. The characterization is “not hyperbole,” he added.

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  last fall Pfizer’s offer of millions of additional doses.

Medication and Supplies

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 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.

In Phoenix, some residents who volunteered at inoculation sites and were given the first vaccination shot couldn’t secure 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 leave states unprepared to vaccinate the public. A Wild West mentality has taken hold.

Teenagers, Shots, Selfies

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-19 vaccination site in the city.

The results were shambolic, with senior citizens left in tears as appointments were not honored. Unsupervised teenagers instead vaccinated each other and took selfies, according to The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Prosecutors are chasing down claims that the 22-year-old CEO pocketed vials of vaccine. Meanwhile, Philadelphia cut ties with Philly Fighting COVID.

On the left coast, things aren’t much better. California’s slow and disorganized distribution efforts led the government to outsource statewide vaccination distribution to private insurer Blue Shield of California, according to The 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 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 discussed the disappointingly slow efforts at the state level to administer vaccines.

Because Trump did nothing, COVID-19  has killed 430,000 people in the United States in less than a year—more Americans killed in four years of World War II combat. That’s Trump’s legacy.

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Jillian S. Ambroz
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