Palm Beach and Holland Lag in Vaccine Rollout

Holland, the country that gave me back my life in 2019, and Palm Beach, the Florida county in which I continue my recovery, would appear to have little in common. Tulips and clogs and bicycles, versus palm trees and flip flops and Hummers. Yes, there are canals in both places, but Florida’s are alligator-prone drainage ditches and the Netherlands’ are quaint waterways.

Among the most striking differences between Holland and my home county is the health care system. The Dutch mandate health insurance, taking the issue of coverage out of the conversation surrounding access to care. Among the miraculous elements contributing to my survival and recovery while I was in Amsterdam was that my New York State retiree health insurance fully covered the costs of my care. Had I been just a few months older, Medicare would not have paid my Amsterdam hospital bill as our national elderly health insurance system does not cover out-of-country costs. It was yet another issue I had not considered as our fateful cruise departed the American shores.

However, Palm Beach County and Holland have something surprising in common right now in the most dire public health issue in a century. Ten months into the coronavirus pandemic, both are lagging behind in administering the coronavirus vaccine.

Palm beach county is not vaccine ready

Jane Musgrave’s article in The Palm Beach Post lays out criticism against Palm Beach County for its lack of visible preparation for distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. It is disappointing. We have benefitted from the county’s leadership in requiring masks despite the lack of a statewide mandate. Governor Ron DeSantis’ callous lack of leadership throughout the pandemic has resulted in Florida’s 1.4 million cases and nearly 23,000 deaths, and the numbers are galloping ahead.

Andy Marlette, News Journal

Palm Beach County hospital and nursing home staff have received the vaccine in the first wave announced by DeSantis, and that’s following the public health direction from Washington. However, rather than following the guidance and placing essential workers in the second wave — grocery store clerks, bus drivers, first-responders, the people who make the world work for us — the governor went “off script,”

governor desantis didn’t follow the state plan

As reported by Jeffrey Schweers in the Tallahassee Democrat, the Florida state plan followed CDC guidance, focusing on long-term care residents, hospital workers at the front lines of the coronavirus battle, workers essential to the running of society, and people with medical conditions that put them at higher risk of getting the disease.

The state plan outlined procedures for distribution, inventory management, storage and handling, second-dose reminders, provider recruitment and enrolling, and communication with the public, Schweers writes.

We have a solid plan.

Jared Moskowitz, Florida Emergency Management director

But Governor Ron DeSantis went off script almost immediately, tossing out the state plan and all its structure while opening up availability to everyone in Florida 65 and over. There are 4 million very of us very anxious old people desperately trying to find out where to sign up. The county Health Department, now saddled with the job without the time or funds to have built the capacity, saw its COVID telephone hotline crash. Our local CVS is waiting for the vaccine. Our doctor’s office doesn’t have any information. I’ve sent an email to the county — as appeared in Jane Musgrove’s Palm Beach Post article — with the information I hope someone sees so that we can be put in line.

However, we are more fortunate than most in being able to sustain our self-imposed lockdown until the process reveals itself. We’ll be alright.

Holland is not vaccine ready

Holland, like the rest of the world, has been ahead of the United States in addressing the coronavirus pandemic. The friends we made among the staff and other patients at OLVG Hospital in Amsterdam are enduring another nearly complete lockdown while practicing the public health measures — wearing masks, keeping social distance, washing their hands — to keep themselves and their fellow citizens healthy.

However, the Netherlands has fallen behind the other European Union countries in beginning the rollout for the vaccine. In Mike Corder’s recent article for the Associated Press, he describes the Netherlands’ slow preparation for the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. Holland, which begins inoculating Dutch citizens today, is the last member of the European Union to take this life-saving step.

This is outrageous. It is not a strategy, but chaos — total chaos — and the preparations were poor and too late.”

Geert Wilders, leader of the largest Dutch opposition party

We need functioning government

The outrage in Holland may be played up by politics in the constitutional monarchy, where multiple parties vie for parliamentary leadership. My husband and I are watching a fascinating political drama about such a process in Denmark, Borgen. It has infused us with a belief in government and, yes, even politicians. It’s been an excellent antidote to the past four years in America.

No political drama prepared us for watching domestic terrorists storm and desecrate the Capitol this past week, though. The silver lining may be, as Majority Whip James Clyburn said on the PBS NewsHour, that Republicans have finally been shocked into governing.

[While in the bunker during the assault on the Capitol] I saw how the government ought to work, Nancy and Mitch coming together and saying what we needed to do to get back to the Capitol and get back on the floor and continue doing what’s necessary to have a peaceful transfer of power.

Congressman Jim Clyburn, speaking on the PBS NewsHour

Twitter got rid of Donald Trump, permanently, yesterday. The country will be rid of him on January 20. It will be permanent, too, if he is twice impeached by the US House of Representatives.

And, look, he’s already said that he wants to be doing things that nobody else has much done before. This will help accommodate him … no president has ever been impeached for a second time before.

Congressman Jim Clyburn, speaking on the PBS NewsHour

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