Herald Letters to the Editor

Vaccine clinics draw criticism

Thank you for your continuing coverage of the limitations and problems of local vaccination clinics.

However, there is an important issue the media are ignoring: the basic safety of the clinics themselves. There is a lack of public transparency about the procedures the clinics are using to ensure safety, so a concerned person has no way of knowing the circumstances they will face. Unfortunately, the rare photos or films I have seen of local clinics are not reassuring.

We know that dangerous aerosolized particles spread much farther than the six-foot safety distance originally proposed by the CDC, but the few photos I have seen of local clinics show spacing that appears six feet or less, along with people lined up in unventilated school hallways or sitting and waiting (for how long?) next to many other people in gymnasiums. And most people still wear flimsy masks when they go out in public.

By contrast, the news photos of British clinics show few people, seated about 15 feet apart, inside drafty, arched cathedrals and similar places. Britain also has a requirement for medical-quality high-risk face masks to be worn in public.

We now have new virus variants, one that is much more transmissible, and mortality rates of the variants are unknown. The CDC has advised us to increase the quality of our masks for this reason. It would seem that we should be even more concerned about the mechanics of the vaccination clinics in these circumstances.

Taking the temperature of clinicgoers is insufficient to protect others, as it doesn’t measure silent transmission, and we know that people are unreliable when asked to report their own health behavior, as some clinics apparently are asking them to do.

What would be better? Have every shot given by appointment and require people not to arrive early. Best of all, give people shots at their vehicles rather than require them to wait inside a building, but again do it by appointment so that the vulnerable will not suffer long waits. And implement drive-through clinics before the weather gets hot!

There is some evidence that a few individuals did get COVID-19 from standing in voting lines in November, although the available data are limited. Let’s not let the same thing happen with vaccination clinics.

Instead, give people the full information they need to make the best decisions about their health. Vulnerable people who have been conscientiously protecting themselves for the past year should not have to risk getting COVID-19 in order to be liberated from their year of self-imposed house arrest!

Julia Jorgensen McAllen