Hunger Games-esque Race for Vaccination Keeps the Wealthy Healthy
It wasn’t so long ago that the announcement of an emergency COVID-19 vaccination approval gave us all a little light at the end of the dark, dark tunnel that was 2020. Worried that even when the vaccine became available, people wouldn’t be comfortable getting it, a slew of influential figures stepped forward to receive their first dose publicly. Even then-president-elect now President Joe Biden bravely rolled up his sleeve on national television to give confidence to the American people. Unfortunately, we know now that the real obstacles to mass vaccination of the American people are not the lack of confidence in the safety and legitimacy of the vaccine.
In Nov 2020, we were promised a massive, quick, effective roll-out that simply never came to fruition (I’m talking “25% of the original goal” failure). Since then, our vision of a safe and healthy 2021 has been clouded by delays, appointment websites crashing, and all around bad communication. Understandably, this has caused a lot of tension and anxiety among those who feel their vaccination is absolutely vital. Whether they feel this way because of age, underlying conditions, or occupation, the anxiety is the common thread. Though this desperation has brought the masses together under a common goal, it has also highlighted the massive differences between the healthcare opportunities of those with wealth and those without.
We’ve always known that there are gaps between the health of the wealthy and the health of a person with average or low income, but it has never been so incredibly blatant as it is now. When everyone is looking to jump the line, find a loophole, and get their vaccination as soon as possible, the differences in wealth appears to be the difference that matters most.
Discussing the “hunger games-esque” race for vaccination in Hollywood, Variety’s Matt Donnelly says,
“It’s also clear that power and wealth, which allow many in the Hollywood community to afford on-demand doctors and access private planes to engage in vaccine tourism, have enabled them to get shots more safely and efficiently than average citizens.”
Importantly, he also notes that most of the aggressive ways those with wealth are accessing vaccination early are not (as of yet) technically illegal, but do force us to consider the ethical implications of using privilege in this way. Donnelly also offers the perspective of Beverly Hills-based Dr. Robert Huizenga, who weighed in on the ethics by explaining that he “can’t blame people for pulling out all the stops” in a “fight for their lives.” He places more blame on the government for the “horrendous” system they’ve set up.
These are big questions, questions I certainly don’t feel qualified to answer. All I know is that I am doing everything I can within my limited power to stay safe, happy, and healthy in these tumultuous times while I patiently wait for my vaccine. I genuinely hope you are, too.