Trying to game the vaccination system disadvantages everyone

The deep frustration people are experiencing attempting to get the COVID-19 vaccine is understandable.

The fear of catching the virus has been a relentless part of our new normal. And few of us have not experienced heartbreak as family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and strangers have contracted the disease—many dying without the people they love by their sides. Nearly 12,000 Georgians have died from COVID-19, nearly 600 in DeKalb County.

The promise of a vaccine to fight against the coronavirus gave us hope and after months of research, clinical trials, reviews by the Food and Drug Administration, two vaccines received approval for emergency use in the United States. Many of us cheered and prepared to roll up our sleeves.

However, now that vaccines are starting to show up at distribution sites—disturbing trends are occurring. Countless individuals are spending hours online trying to book appointments without success due to the rush to get the vaccine. Some people are making appointments at multiple locations and then showing up at only one location. This practice robs others of appointment times and leaves unused vaccines, which must be administered within a short time frame, in jeopardy of being discarded.

(One news report I heard—but cannot confirm—mentioned that at on one day at a DeKalb vaccination site 200 appointments were made but only 85 individuals showed up.) Others are attempting to game the system by using confirmation information from friends and relatives to pretend they have appointments. This only slows the process of getting the vaccine as those with bogus appointments are weeded out of the lines at distribution sites.

There’s critical need for improvement to the current vaccine system with an emphasis on more distribution sites, more ways for to make appointments that don’t involve computers and the internet as well as improvements to existing online appointment sites to speed up the process.

These must be left to authorities who oversee public health and government as well as the increasing number of business leaders who are coming to their aid with ideas and resources to vastly improve getting more shots in arms. Hopefully in short order, improvements will be made.

However, as individuals we have a responsibility to do what we can not to impede the current vaccination system. Booking appointments in multiple locations, using bogus credentials and seeking other ways to game the system are irresponsible actions that put others at a disadvantage and cause unnecessary complications.

As more vaccination sites are opened, more vaccine becomes available and kinks are worked out in the system, it will become easier to get that shot in the arm that promises less fear of COVID-19 and an eventual return to normal life.

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