MORE THAN 169 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States since its release on Dec. 14, 2020, according to NPR. And more people have been able to get vaccinated as eligibility requirements expand. However, this also means that it has become easier for people to lie in order to get the vaccine early. There have been many cases across the nation of people lying about having an underlying health condition, about their career or even about their identity in their attempts to “jump ahead” in line. Beyond the immoral aspects of these events, there are other occurrences that further complicate the situation.
A major point of contention about those who lie in order to get the vaccine early is that they are bypassing certain groups of people that need the vaccine more. Eligibility requirements exist for a reason, and when people ignore them, populations that need the vaccine due to health, occupation or lifestyle reasons face additional challenges to access. These populations include healthcare workers, those who work with children, the immunocompromised, houseless individuals and those living in a group home or another foster care setting. Considering how hard it already is for eligible individuals to book an appointment, those who are not eligible and choose to get the vaccine early make it even harder for those who are. Furthermore, there are certain racial groups, specifically Black and Latino Americans, that end up being left behind when white individuals choose to ignore eligibility, especially considering the unintentional racial bias within the vaccine distribution system.
The Kaiser Family Foundation says that 80% of vaccinations in Oregon have been given to white people while 2% and 5% have been given to Black and Hispanic populations, respectively.
These statistics are troubling, particularly given the fact that Hispanic people have contributed to 34% of total cases despite making up 13% of the population. It is not news that racial biases have caused a lack of vaccinations in communities of color due to language barriers, internet access, location of vaccination sites and a “one size fits all policy” that excludes many. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Black Americans are at a higher risk of having a chronic illness or pre-existing health condition that makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19. As such, white individuals jumping the line further disadvantage already marginalized groups.
Specifically, on the Lewis & Clark campus, it is frustrating to see people lying about their eligibility because we will all get vaccinated soon. The college recently sent out an email outlining plans to administer vaccines to students and staff in the near future. After April 19, when all people in Oregon over the age of 16 become eligible, LC is planning on administering vaccines once the college receives its own supply. There are also other ways for individuals who are not eligible to get vaccinated without cheating. Walk-ins are welcome at some clinics, though it is relatively tough to get an appointment. Others, such as Walmart, have a list of names that one can call and ask to be added to in the case that there are extra vaccines. I do not see this as cheating because there is no lying nor immediate guarantee of a vaccine involved.
Ultimately, everyone wants the vaccine. It is not bad to worry about the safety of one’s family, community and self. The problem exists in lying about eligibility and bypassing certain groups that are more susceptible to get COVID-19 while also experiencing boundaries that already hinder their access. If you are eligible, get vaccinated. If you are not, wait and choose not to contribute to a system that benefits only a select few.
This article presents opinions held by the author, not those of The Pioneer Log, its editorial board or those interviewed for background information.