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California’s Upside Down Vax Plans

California has one of the worst Covid vaccine injection rates in the country. Much disrespected, impoverished West Virginia, where I began my work as a journalist many moons ago, has one of the best rates. Politicians here, natch, offer up many excuses for their poor performance in handling this debacle but cannot plausibly deny that the triple evils of incompetence, lack of leadership, and political correctness have made hefty contributions to our state's abysmal injection rates. One aspect has especially pissed me off.

I’m rarely astounded anymore, but while perusing the news one recent morning I was struck dumb by Newsom’s quote, and I’m assuming he actually said it, that teachers need not be vaccinated to reopen the state’s schools. What??? I admit to a bias since my daughter is a (unvaccinated) public high school teacher, but the fact that he could actually believe this, much less say it out loud, speaks volumes about the oft-repeated hypocrisy that the health of our children is any kind of priority among our so-called leaders. Some counties, Mendo among them, have been vaccinating teachers even though they are not part of the state’s high-priority group. The nearby Bay Area county where I live, many times larger than Mendo, has not vaccinated a single teacher. For Newsom to advocate putting unvaccinated teachers back in their classrooms with 30-plus students, who by definition cannot be vaccinated because they are children, is more depressing evidence that teachers are in fact at the bottom of the heap when it comes to general respect; they are, after all, not rich, and therefore Invisible, in the eyes of the state’s bureaucratic power brokers. 

Contrast this with vaccination rates in the predominantly cosseted Bay Area senior community where I live. Educated folks with lots of time on their hands jumped right onto Rite-Aid’s and other private websites and got vaccination appointments right away. Our “entry coordinators” have even been tasked with invasively requesting everyone’s “vaccination plan.” Nearly everyone is comfortably retired and free to sit out the virus, though many, naturally, complain about boredom (No plays! No restaurants!). My daughter toils in her home eight hours a day Zooming with her students and struggling to create some zone of normalcy for a bunch of hormonal, hyper-social teenagers who want to be anywhere but isolated at home with their laptops. Nobody wants distance learning. Newsom wants to reopen schools to make voting parents happy, while exposing the state’s teachers to super-spreader events every day they walk into their classrooms.

This is where political correctness meets bureaucratic self-interest. A 65-year-old should not be vaccinated before a teacher. Period. Every single teacher in the state should be vaccinated before a single vial of vaccine is diverted to a 65-year-old. Health workers aside, it’s bald political self-interest to cater to us 65-to-74 year-olds, who as a group are wealthier than mostly-young teachers and always, always vote. It’s time to do what’s right instead of what’s politically expedient. Vaccinate teachers.

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