Each week, the editorial staff of the Review meets to discuss ideas for the coming edition. Emerging out of this is a “story budget,” which is a term of art that is essentially a list of stories to work on.
Topping Deputy Editor Sarah Wright’s list this week was a story on vaccine data. Wright is devoting most of her time these days to reporting on the vaccine rollout and the progress of efforts to end the pandemic generally. For her data story, she included the questions she would like answered: How many vaccines have been administered so far, and why don’t we have an exact number? How many have been received? Who is tracking them? Are any going to waste? How do we know they’re getting to the people who need them? Is the data getting to the state? When can we expect routine reporting? How are they confirming that the right people are getting it? Did the sheriff get one? Should he since he is technically a first responder but not really on the front lines? How about water district employees? Aren’t they critical?
And so on.
She had another laundry list of questions about the next group — so called “1b,” which is comprised of people 75 and up as well as frontline essential workers — due to receive the vaccine. Will the county follow the state recommendations? Is there a written plan for 1b as there was for 1a? How will the next group get their vaccine? Who isn’t included? How will they be informed? Will employers be involved? Is the county learning mistakes elsewhere?
The answers to most of these questions prove elusive at this writing. That isn’t necessarily because of government incompetence or a bureaucrat’s efforts to ignore our questions. Some of these questions just are not that simple and most have not been asked before.
Those of us who believe in science are anxiously awaiting our turn to get vaccinated. The development of these vaccines is not a miracle even though it may seem miraculous that these shots are arriving years earlier than any vaccines ever before developed. No, they are the result of rigorous around-the-clock scientific efforts conducted across the globe, some of it making use of research into mRNA technology that was ongoing before this pandemic.
There is less scientific method involved in deciding who gets a shot first. There is no reason to set the bar for 1b at 75, for example. And deciding which essential workers are more at risk than others is hardly a scientific exercise.
We were struck by something Half Moon Bay Dr. Dan McMillan told Wright this week. McMillan said he is telling his anxious patients not to be overly concerned about exactly when they get the shot or shots necessary to avoid this deadly virus. He notes we will still need to wear a mask and maintain our distance even after being vaccinated, at least for a while. In other words: the timing of your shot will not change your life in an instant.
So let’s follow the doctor’s advice. Watch for your turn in line. Until then, follow proper personal hygiene and the latest precautions offered by public health professionals. Stay at home as much as possible. Use the tools you have at your own disposal and, eventually, science will have its day.
— Clay Lambert