The good news is the vaccines to treat COVID-19 appear to be both safe and effective. The bad news is it can be nearly impossible to find a way to get one.
The federal government has purchased hundreds of millions of doses of both approved vaccines, but it’s not clear exactly where they all are. Distribution has been turned over to the states, which in some cases have pushed this to the county or city level.
The rules for who can be vaccinated when differ not just from state to state, but in some cases from county to county, or city to city. Some locales are prioritizing senior citizens. Others are focused on essential workers. In some cases, the required age is 75 and up. In others, it’s 65 and up. In some places, people on the fringe of the health care profession are vaccinated. In others, there are nurses or doctors who are still waiting for their shots.
Getting vaccinated requires navigating a complex system to find who has the vaccine, getting on their list, and sometimes traveling many miles to sit in line for hours before getting the first shot. (And this process will be repeated in a few weeks for dose #2). People are trying to cut to the front of the line by paying more money or lying about their eligibility.
Developing and producing a vaccine in such a short period of time was an incredible feat. But without an efficient process to get the vaccines into the arms of the population, much of that effort is wasted.
Getting 80% there may work in some instances. But in cases like this, good enough is not enough.
How many times have we seen major initiatives that were well planned and even fairly well executed…except for the fact no one counted on complications likely to occur before the product or service got to the final user? How many times have organizations counted on everything on the critical path going perfectly…until it didn’t?
The lesson for all of us is to not rely on others to take the handoff and deliver the winning play. With this much at stake, the devil is in the details.
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