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While vaccine is scarce, vaccinate neediest first

President Joe Biden wants to open up COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone by May. That’s a commendable goal, one that could best be reached by providing the vaccines needed to vaccinate everyone by May.

Gov. Tim Walz has opened up vaccinations to anyone 16 and older. Again, that is a great development that is tempered by the fact there isn’t enough vaccine yet to throw the vaccination clinics wide open.

So until the production of vaccine is able to meet demand, it is up to the health care professionals who are administering the vaccines to focus their efforts on those who need it the most. Those are the people most at risk of serious reaction if they are infected — the elderly, those with chronic medical conditions, those essential workers whose work puts them at risk of contracting or spreading the disease.

Work should continue on educating and encouraging groups and populations who are mistrustful of government health programs and vaccinations to get the protection of COVID-19 vaccines.

All this depends on the production of vaccines in mass quantities, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. The news came last week that Johnson & Johnson had to dump a huge batch of vaccines, enough for 15 million doses when they became contaminated in the production process. It’s discouraging at a time where people are waiting in line for a dose. But the demands for quality trumps the demand for quantity in this case.

In the meantime, we must route the vaccines we have to those who most need it.

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