Vaccination used to have two goals: protecting individuals directly by stimulating their immune systems and protecting their communities by denying the virus new hosts who will spread it. But thanks to the variants we now have a third goal: protecting the nation, and the globe, by draining the reservoirs of infection that allow the virus to evolve its way around our immune system. Of course, we’d like to reach those first two goals as quickly as possible. But the third one is why we have to move with all possible speed.

Every completed vaccination is one fewer opportunity for another variant to arise. We dare not waste even a drop of vaccine, nor let it sit in a freezer for one second longer than absolutely necessary, even if that means sometimes vaccinating people we’d have left until later in an ideal world.

Of course it’s hard to watch other people who seem to be winning the vaccine lottery while we’re still miserably waiting at home. But if you remember that each of them is sharing a little of their winnings with the rest of us, that misery might get a bit more bearable.