Vaccine story underscores systemic hurdles

To the editor: Regarding the “Annals of vaccination” story in the Feb. 18 Eagle: The efforts of the vaccine coordinators at last week’s Berkshire Community College clinic to distribute doses that were about to expire is admirable, but the story revealed the outrageous fact that 500 appointments on a single day at that one clinic went unclaimed.

There were hundreds of appointments going begging at other clinics in the Berkshires, as well. Maimmunizations.org, for instance, showed 240 available slots at noon on Feb. 9 for the Feb. 10 clinic in Great Barrington. This is truly an instance of the ideal being an enemy of the good. Ethical considerations and fair distribution are right and proper, but we should not be so hamstrung by those considerations that hundreds of shots go unadministered.

While we fret about getting vaccines to exactly the right people in exactly the right order, the few people trained to give vaccinations sit idle and COVID variants thrive and spread. Why were those clinics not allowed to keep a waiting list of willing and no doubt eager vaccine recipients who could hurry down to fill the unused slots?

The government must loosen its regulations enough to prevent this from happening again. Obviously, the more people who get the shot, of whatever age and profile, the better it is for the entire community. It’s essential to keep already thawed vaccine from going to waste. It is equally vital to have a reason to defrost it in the first place.

Anna Cypra Oliver, Great Barrington