Susan Estrich: Please, just get the vaccine

Susan Estrich: There are many questions that have two sides, even in science and medicine. But not this one. Get a vaccine.

Susan Estrich
Susan Estrich commentary
Tribune graphic

California is substantially open. Many are living as if COVID-19 were gone. That's a big "if." We are not close to vaccinating everybody, because of limits on both supply and demand. So why are we living as if it were already gone?
Los Angeles, which, only weeks ago, was the world's COVID hot spot, is open. Masks are still required, and the tables are spread apart, but more and more of us feel free to return to something approaching normalcy because we've been vaccinated. Indeed, even though the rollout has been rocky, to be polite, a significant segment of the population has been invited to sit in their cars or stand in line for a while and get a shot, after a year of isolation and fear.


Most people I know over 65 have been vaccinated. Of course, most people I know are white or Asian, the two groups most open to getting vaccinated. This has translated into the placement of almost all the big vaccination sites in Hispanic and Black neighborhoods, but the people in line are far more diverse.
A lot of people I know are in education, and most of them have been vaccinated, too. I can't help but publicly commend the University of Southern California, where I have taught for decades, which has done a spectacular job of vaccinating all of its employees, as well as providing the staff and organization for the sites run for the city by the Los Angeles Fire Department. When I got to the park where the line was snaking along, I realized I was right across the street from the pharmacy school. When I got closer, I realized the Trojan banners were everywhere, and I was thankful. They're on their feet, many of them volunteers, for hours on end to help us. Plus, sitting in your car at bumper-to-bumper speed for hours on end, and standing line for hours on a not-perfect day, does not always bring out the best in people.
One of my friends, who was vaccinated yesterday, said that when she thanked the woman who gave her the shot, the woman thanked her for coming. That is nuts.
The fact that the numbers of new cases and numbers of deaths are as low as they are is variously explained as either proof that our precautions worked or that we have the beginnings of herd immunity. If it's the former, we are playing with the possibility of yet another spike, which will be even more affected by race and income than the one we recently had; the deaths will surely all be Blacks and Hispanics.
As of Monday, anyone in the state who has certain medical conditions or disabilities was entitled to join the educators, caregivers, first responders, and food and grocery workers in getting vaccinated -- millions more people. I figured the systems would crash. I figured it would be impossible to get an appointment. I offered to help friends who fit in the categories or have children who do. No one needed help. It wasn't hard. The private company that has contracted with Los Angeles to run the appointment system, Carbon Health, is way easier to navigate than the county system. On Monday, there were appointments available across the city. I just checked and found three appointments at Dodger Stadium.
It's not easy to get an appointment. I'm not suggesting otherwise. But it's possible. It's getting easier. It will get even easier when the drug stores start giving shots. The supply will be there. But will the demand? Will people roll up their sleeves to save their lives, and the lives of those around them?
There are many questions that have two sides, even in science and medicine. But not this one.
The Earth is round, not flat.
The Holocaust happened.
Get a vaccine.

Susan Estrich can be reached at

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