Wait your turn. Fair is fair. Be patient. Good things come to those who wait.
But if you’re an elected official in the nation’s capitol – or the president’s lawyer – there are no lines and no waiting.
As President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani put it in a phone interview with WABC Radio after quickly getting medical treatment for COVID-19, “If it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t have been put in a hospital, frankly. Sometimes when you’re a celebrity, they’re worried if something happens to you; they’re going to examine it more carefully and do everything right.”
The latest display of entitlement came this week when some U.S. senators stepped to the head of the COVID-19 vaccine line, even though for many, the only justification was that if they got sick they couldn’t continue the business of government. Some folks are questioning just how much business has been taking place lately.
A prime example of breaking into the line was Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. He’s a healthy 49-year-old who has routinely scoffed at concerns about the coronavirus and flouted recommendations he wear a mask and avoid crowds. But Rubio stepped up to get his dose of the vaccine, posing for photos and sharing them with his supporters.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican like Rubio, spoke for many Americans over the weekend when he called out congressional leaders for showing themselves getting vaccinated while far too few of the potentially life-saving vials were going to vaccinate front-line health care workers, elderly people and nursing home employees.
Sununu said he was upset because “every single one of those vials that’s being used for a congressman or a senator that has been doing nothing, that hasn’t been on the front lines, is another vial of vaccine that isn’t going to a nurse or a resident in a long-term care facility.”
Sununu took to Twitter on Saturday to criticize the entitled behavior of the politicians who got vaccinated and made a show of it, all claiming they wanted to reassure Americans the vaccine was safe.
“Since when is doing nothing an essential function?” Sununu tweeted.
Later, in an interview with NBC10 Boston, the 46-year-old governor said he’ll be the first to step up for a vaccine when it’s his turn, based on his health and age, “but we are very far away from that point.”
Sununu understands his place in line is about giving priority to people who truly need the vaccine – not about setting an example for constituents. Besides, recent surveys point to doctors and other health care professionals instilling more faith in the safety of the vaccine than politicians.
A bigger concern than pols jumping the line is whether the rollout of vaccinations for the rest of us will be done fairly and smoothly. Early indications are that things haven’t gone well in some places.
Computer glitches and cuts in the supply by the federal government hampered the first week of the vaccine rollout in Massachusetts. The Bay State was one of more than a dozen states originally promised specific amounts of the Pfizer vaccine, only to see those shipments cut by as much as 25% or more by federal authorities, who claimed they overestimated what would be available.
Some Boston hospitals ran up against other problems.
Mass General Brigham Hospital had to deal with software problems that crashed its employee vaccine enrollment site; Boston Medical Center officials caught flak after some staffers working with coronavirus patients complained they weren’t invited to be in the first round of those being vaccinated.
Even before the first vial of vaccine arrived in Massachusetts, companies were lobbying for their employees to be given high priority for vaccinations. It’s one thing to say front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities should be at the head of the line, but ensuring everyone agrees on the definitions and abides by them could be another problem.
Everyone needs to be vaccinated to subdue this pandemic. Making sure we each have an appropriate place in line should be job No. 1 right now.