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Opinion | Deciding Who Gets the Vaccine First

To the Editor:

Re “Officials Agonize Over Allotment of First Vaccines” (front page, Dec. 6):

The fact is that it will be many months before there is enough vaccine for everyone. Therefore, whatever choices our C.D.C. officials, governors and local officials make, some people will receive the vaccine sooner than others. So let’s not turn this into yet another “I’m right and you’re wrong” polarizing, politically loaded debate.

Before making a pitch that their group should get priority, advocates should start by acknowledging, as we all should, that there is no perfectly equitable outcome. And we all should try to remember that we’re all in this together.

Steve Pomerance
Boulder, Colo.

To the Editor:

I am 71 years old and have no underlying health conditions. As much as I would love to eat in restaurants and socialize indoors again, I do not think I should receive the Covid-19 vaccine ahead of essential workers who interact with the public.

It would be no great hardship for me to continue with my Covid-cautious lifestyle for a few more months so that these workers, many of whom are low-paid people of color, can get the protection they need.

Elaine McDonald
Tucson, Ariz.

To the Editor:

Re “Vaccine Panel Says Nursing Homes Deserve Priority” (news article, Dec. 2):

I am 93 and recently spent a short time in a nursing home because of a fractured hip. Some of the residents I encountered may have welcomed an end to their lives. With vaccines in short supply, is it reasonable to save people who probably will not live much longer instead of some who are raising young families and have much to live for?

I urge all who, like me, are old and marking time to save a more valuable life.

Lois Taylor
Old Greenwich, Conn.

To the Editor:

As we vaccinate citizens in an attempt to reach herd immunity as quickly as possible, it would seem prudent to initially exclude people who have already been infected with the coronavirus.

More than 14 million people have tested positive for the virus in the United States, and it has been proposed that anywhere from two to 24 times as many are likely to have also contracted it. We should identify these tens of millions of people via testing and exclude them from the initial vaccination groups, as they already have developed some level of immunity. Excluding this cohort will enable others to get the vaccine and allow the country to reach herd immunity months earlier, saving tens of thousands of lives.

Steven Eiger
Bozeman, Mont.
The writer is an associate professor for the WWAMI Medical Education Program at Montana State University.

To the Editor:

Re “Why Inmates Should Be at the Front of the Vaccination Lines,” by Emily Bazelon (Op-Ed, Dec. 3):

As the first doses of coronavirus vaccines are readied, the C.D.C. advisory panel recommending their allocation has failed to include one important population among the early recipients — the 2.3 million Americans in our jails and prisons. The five largest coronavirus outbreaks in the United States have occurred in correctional facilities, as have 40 of the 50 largest.

Little can be done to safeguard prisoners, guards and other personnel in facilities where social distancing is not possible and personal protective equipment is lacking. The failure of the advisory panel to include the incarcerated and the people who supervise them is, in many ways, indicative of criminal justice systems nationwide that incarcerate almost 1 percent of the adult population, one third more than the next highest country, and then neglect their care.

Robert Heimer
New Haven, Conn.
The writer is a professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.

To the Editor:

I’d like to suggest a solution to the reluctance to taking the vaccination on the part of some citizens. Create a lottery. A vaccination certificate would enroll citizens in such a lottery, and let there be many prizes of, say, $10,000. I think many people will go for it.

Bruce Grill
New York

To the Editor:

Speaking as one who has voted for the Democratic candidate in the last 11 presidential elections, including this one: Shouldn’t we give the Trump administration some credit for the apparently rapid development of vaccines?

Robert Sullivan
Johns Creek, Ga.

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