Second, the distribution system needs improvement. Standing up vaccination sites and encouraging people to go get the shot is expensive and takes time. The best option may be to rely more on private industry. National pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens have an agreement with the federal government to provide vaccines to long-term care facilities. The government should expand this program to help vaccinate all Americans.

The major pharmacy chains combined can deliver up to 100 million vaccines a month. The plan had been to allow large retailers to start offering the shot when it was ready for the general public, perhaps later in the spring. Why not get started now? Public-health agencies can focus their resources on providing access to harder-to-reach communities and patients who might be homebound.

Another reality: The demand for vaccines may not align with those who are eligible. Essential workers may stand to benefit a lot, but what if there’s more demand among those over 65?