Vaccine priorities: Why Americans have good reason to despise Congress

The road distance between the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Washington D.C. and the U.S. Capitol is less than four miles.

As far as Congress caring for combat disabled veterans and our fellow veterans who have had a rough go, impoverishing themselves or destroying their health through substance abuse, the distance might as well be measured in light years.  As a point of comparison, a light year is six trillion miles.

Just before official Washington stood down for the long Christmas weekend I called Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) Washington and asked how they are doing on vaccinating their veterans. I received a very polite response “call back in two weeks we do not have the vaccine." Cutting the person some slack, I hope she actually meant we have enough for hospital first responders and those very old and infirm, but did not say that.

That very same night I received a system wide e-mail announcing with great pride the initial list of facilities with the vaccine, which included VAMC Washington. The intent to inform was decent but it also tragically had embedded an unrelated message for older combat disabled veterans and included the need for them to accept rationing of the vaccine “after these first 2 groups.” They sent:

Under this plan, we’re now offering vaccines to these 2 groups:

  • Veterans living in our long-term care facilities, and
  • VA health care personnel. Vaccinating our VA health care personnel helps us continue providing care for Veterans.

We based this plan on these criteria from CDC guidelines:

  • Risk of becoming infected with the virus
  • Risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19
  • Risk of spreading the virus to others
  • Risk of harm to society if essential workers, including health care personnel, are unable to work

After these first 2 groups, we’ll begin to offer vaccines to more Veterans who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

If you’re eligible to get a vaccine, your VA health care team will contact you. You don’t need to reserve a vaccine, or come to a VA facility to request or receive a vaccine until we contact you. Our staff will only provide vaccines to Veterans who are currently eligible for one based on VA and CDC risk criteria.

So less than four miles from U.S. capital, the veterans of Washington D.C. are facing the rationing of the COVID vaccine while senators and congressman have already been vaccinated.

Ironically, on the same day as my call and receiving the DVA e-mail about VA facilities offering the vaccine, NPR offered this horrific insight about U.S. Congress and vaccine priority.

The Capitol's attending physician, Brian Monahan, alerted its more than 500 lawmakers this month that they're now eligible to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine under continuity-of-government requirements.

I was President Reagan’s Principal Director of Mobilization and Planning Requirements and ran the Continuity of Government Program (COG). Let me say on the record that invoking continuity-of-government (COG) is such a selfish me-first move that it brings shame to all.

Even more insulting is now is that staffers from congressional offices as well as committee staff will also jump the line.  Hell, even with the much-dreaded symbolic Zombie Apocalypse-invoking, hollow, self-serving, COG excuse, it's incredibly insulting to America’s veterans

Congress' attending physician informed lawmakers Monday night that two staffers in every House member and senator's personal offices are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

In addition, the Office of the Attending Physician is offering the vaccine to four staffers of every committee chair and every ranking committee member.

In the COG line of succession, Speaker Pelosi D-CA (age 80) is the person in line behind the vice president and then next is Senator Chuck Grassley R-IA. (Age 87), President Pro Tem of Senate. It is essential to put those two at the head of the line for our national security.

However, for the rest of the lot on Capitol Hill, Andrea Peyser brilliantly calls out their me-first D.C. entitlement attitude. According to the New York Post:

This, despite the fact that the far-leftist darling is just 31 years old, and seemingly in excellent physical condition. I’ve heard of no attempts on her part to get the vaccine spread around early to people for whom it might be a matter of life and death.

But Ocasio-Cortez vigorously defended her cutting of the vaccine line after Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, 57, argued that members of Congress, particularly those who are under 65 years of age and in good health, shouldn’t get the shots ahead of old people and health-care workers.

There are some real thoughtful heroes in this trying time of the plague year on the other side, too. Showing her military training and seriousness about takingcare of the troops first, Rep Tulsi Gabbard nailed it perfectly:

And on Monday, former Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, 39, excoriated health officials for allowing young, healthy individuals to selfishly jump to the front of the inoculation line.

“Heartless, arrogant, unelected [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] bureaucrats have decided that the lives of elderly Americans just don’t count,” Gabbard tweeted.

The mind boggles at such a selfish group of individuals serving in Congress.

Let this moment in time forever reflect that the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate, if the members and staff do not meet CDC guidelines for their place in the queue but jump the line. What they are saying to the most deserving among us, our combat disabled veterans: Tough luck for you, we simply do not care if you die alone in the dark.

Image credit: Pixabay public domain