In state after state, the results have been chaotic. In one Kentucky community, doses were nearly wasted when one nursing home ordered more than it needed. (Pharmacists saved the shots from the garbage bin by offering them to lucky customers on the spot.) In Palo Alto, Calif., faulty algorithms initially excluded frontline hospital residents from getting vaccinated. In New York and Boston, doctors who are at low risk have been caught cutting ahead of those at high risk. In Wisconsin, some 500 doses were deliberately wasted by a hospital employee. In Florida, seniors are waiting in line overnight in some cases.

If it’s been this difficult to vaccinate nursing home residents and health care workers — which should have been the easy part, by most accounts — one shudders to think what the picture will look like when larger, more diffuse populations become eligible for the shot…

Other countries are trying to offer the vaccine to as many people as possible. In Britain and Canada, for example, officials are planning to deploy all of their current vaccine supply immediately, rather than reserve half of it so those who get a first shot can quickly get their booster. Modeling has suggested that this approach could avert some 42 percent of symptomatic cases. Ideally, U.S. officials would at least consider similar measures. But more doses won’t make any difference if we can’t even manage the doses we have now.