EDITORIAL: Keep politics out of vaccine distribution

(University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
PHOTOGRAPHER:
(University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

Coronavirus is surging across the state and the country.

A safe, reliable vaccine soon becoming available, as announced by Pfizer on Monday, may help reverse this deadly trend and get us past this crisis soon.

But the vaccine will only be effective if the public trusts the process for distributing it. And that won’t happen if politics is injected into the discussion.

Perhaps it was too much to ask that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for instance, would keep his legitimate concerns about the vaccine distribution strictly to the facts.

For several weeks now, he’s been saying that he’s concerned about the federal government’s proposed plan for distributing the vaccine largely through private pharmacies and hospitals, fearing it would result in people in poor and minority neighborhoods from getting the vaccine.

Fair enough. Legitimate criticism.

But then Cuomo went on TV on Monday and resorted to political rhetoric to make his points.

Cuomo, a sharp critic of President Trump and vice versa, praised the development of the vaccine, then added, “The bad news is that it’s about two months before Joe

Biden takes over, and that means this administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan.”

That inspired conservative media outlets like the New York Post and Fox News to generate articles about how Cuomo thinks the vaccine is bad.

He didn’t say that. But by making the issue about Trump instead of sticking strictly to his concerns, the governor gave the president and his defenders an opportunity to make it political.

It’s a bad time to stir the political pot.

The result could be that people may choose not to take the vaccine based in part on their political perceptions rather than whether the vaccine is truly being distributed equitably and fairly.

Will the vaccine reach the people it needs to reach? Who, if anyone, will be left out under current plans and how can that be prevented? Will people be excluded because of their race or social status?

Those are the questions on which politicians and the public should focus.

Politicians should rely exclusively on those with actual expertise in the mass distribution of vaccines — scientists, vaccine manufacturers, research companies, equipment suppliers, the military — for the answers.

Our health is all that matters here, not which politician or which political party gets the credit or blame.

For the sake of our country and its people, the politicians need to keep the politics out of this.

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