Video and images flooded social media this morning after several states launched emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine. Many government entities and news outlets broadcast the first inoculations live, providing a sliver of hope in a year where so many have lost loved ones across the globe.
On a split screen, New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo virtually viewed the first administration of the vaccine to nurse Sandra Lindsay, at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens. Queens served as the American epicenter of COVID cases and deaths in the first months of the epidemic.
Florida soon followed, vaccinating COVID-unit nurse Vanessa Arroyo at Tampa General Hospital.
— Megan Reeves (@mareevs) December 14, 2020
Other areas administering vaccines today to healthcare workers include Washington, D.C. and the states of Iowa, Ohio, Rhode Island and more.
The United States of COVID Confusion
While the vaccine images provide a welcome respite, many questions remain. Because there is no federal mandate for the vaccine, states are left to their own devices on how and when to distribute.
And many citizens are expressing frustration, seeing states who have not had official mask rulings or shutdown guidelines as the virus raged through their communities administering vaccines. Many may ask, what about those of us who have had stricter policies?
“Americans are now getting a crash course in COVID-19 public health policy and understanding who is eligible to receive the vaccine,” said Gil Bashe, managing partner, global health at Finn Partners. “When public questions are bereft of answers, trust declines. This is adding to the pandemic of confusion. We are still looking for one, clear leadership voice to guide us; but, while the CDC issues recommendations, state governments set operational policy. As a result, we have multiple ‘who gets what and when’ vaccine scheduling policies, state-by-state spokespersons vying for camera time and local news stories featuring health-staff vaccinations.”
The Power of an Image
Yet, for many, Bashe said, physically seeing the progress of some sort of solution to this painful pandemic can heal much of the skepticism and confusion.
“Images of ER staff at the front-of-the-vaccination line should set right multiple wrongs,” Bashe said. “Waiting too long for PPE equipment, emergency medical staff are the most at risk for COVID-19 and their absence from the frontline of care endangers us all. They must be invited to the front-of-the-line. Their stepping forward is a demonstration of public support that science matters – for their safety and ours.”
The images can also set an example for millions of Americans, setting a tone for the vaccine movement.
“Let’s follow this example – put others first, support public health and science and step forward to vaccinate," Bashe said. “This is now a season of true illumination and hope.”
Nurse Lindsay may have had the best message for the press, after receiving her vaccine.
“I have seen the alternative, and do not want it for you,” she said. “I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.”
Nicole Schuman is senior editor for PRNEWS. Follow her @buffalogal.