At least in theory, there’s supposed to be a schedule for who gets to request a COVID vaccination in what order. The ubiquitous use of “group 1a” and “group 1b” breaks down along the same lines in most states, with frontline healthcare workers, nursing home residents and those over age 75 (sometimes 65) being at the head of the line. You wouldn’t know that looking at California some days, though. We’re constantly seeing reports of the powerful and the famous somehow miraculously managing to get vaccinated even if they don’t fall into any of those categories. The latest example of this phenomenon is Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti who turns out to have gotten his first injection more than a week ago. Garcetti, age 49, had a ready excuse for this, of course. (LA Times)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is certainly younger than 65. And he isn’t a healthcare worker.
But the mayor is on the front lines of the pandemic response, according to aides. So Garcetti, who turns 50 next week, received a COVID-19 vaccination last Thursday.
Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar said the mayor got his first dose after he spent five days at Dodger Stadium helping with the vaccination effort and “directly interacting with hundreds of Angelenos each day.”
The beginning of the linked article from the Times really sums up all you need to know. Garcetti is a career politician who majored in political science and urban planning in college. He has no qualifications in the medical field. If he was down at Dodger Stadium helping out at the vaccination site, he did it for a photo op. There was no need for him to be down there mixing it up with that many people when there have been plenty of volunteers for such work.
His aides are saying that “medical professionals were strongly urging” that he be vaccinated after spending time at Dodger Stadium. Sure, but they wouldn’t have been saying that if he’d stayed back at his office and focused on his job.
Garcetti also doesn’t get a pass using the excuse that most politicians have summoned up, saying that they are trying to “lead by example” for the people exhibiting vaccine hesitancy. If that was his purpose, he would have done it in his office and invited film crews in to cover it (yes, another photo op). But the Mayor did it in private and never mentioned it until word of his vaccination made it into the press. I’m guessing that if the reporters hadn’t asked him about it he wouldn’t have bothered revealing this fact until far in the future.
Vaccination stations all around Los Angeles have been reporting shortages of doses just like the rest of the country. Eligible people from groups 1a and 1b have been turned away or given appointments that are weeks or even months in the future. But just like some of the movie industry moguls that Garcetti likes to pal around with, he somehow managed to jump to the head of the line. That’s an impressive bit of chutzpah when you think about it. Even New York Governor Andrew “So What? They Died” Cuomo hasn’t tried this yet, and that’s the guy who forced the reopening of the Buffalo Bills football stadium ahead of schedule just so he could go watch a playoff game. (He didn’t wind up going.)
The Mayor of Los Angeles is supposed to be leading the local effort to manage the pandemic. That keeps him up at the 10,000-foot level where he can deal with problems as they crop up. There was no need for him to be down in Dodger Stadium handing out masks or collecting contact tracing data. Leading by example would be staying in his office and doing his job while not taking up a vaccine dose that somebody’s grandmother couldn’t get because her local vaccination site ran out.