Sen. Kamala Harris suggested Saturday that she might refuse a vaccination for Covid-19 because “I would not trust Donald Trump.” My father, 96, feels the same way about Gerald Ford. “No way,” he says when I tell him I hope he gets the new shot as soon as it’s available. “I got the swine flu vaccine in 1976. I was in bed for three days, and my memory hasn’t been the same since.”
That fiasco has fueled many anti-vaxxers since. More than 40 million people received a rushed, flawed vaccine against a virus that never emerged, and at least 500 cases of the paralyzing Guillain-Barré syndrome were linked to it, along with thousands of cases of other unreported symptoms like my father’s.
This time at least the epidemic—and the need for a vaccine—is real. Of the more than 30 vaccines currently in clinical trials for Covid-19, three are in Phase 3, the final stage before approval, in the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed. Factories are gearing up, and distributions centers have been instructed to be in place by Nov. 1. That’s a good move even if the vaccine isn’t ready to distribute by then. The last thing we need right now is a bureaucratic delay.