By DAVID TUBBS
On the 8th of March, thousands of us received a message from NMDOH, which began: “New Mexico is the most efficient state in the country for vaccine distribution …”
What self-congratulatory twaddle, I thought at the time; and nothing since has changed my mind. I certainly did not accept the assertion as truth.
The chorus of public letters from angry, frustrated New Mexicans spoke truth. So did the voices of frustrated local friends, still waiting to be vaccinated, who told me of their friends who drove to Texas or Colorado for vaccine. So, too, did weekly media reports of the vaccination chaos in New Mexico.
The experiences of my friends, all about my 70-ish age, who live outside New Mexico gave testimony to the truth. My friends in Grand Junction, Colorado, were fully vaccinated weeks ago. My friends in Radford, Virginia, are confidently scheduled for their second Moderna shots at the end of March. My out-of-state friends emphasized how efficient and unambiguous their state registration and vaccination programs are. My Virginia friends even reemphasized to me their experience, when I phoned them about my latest infuriating day here in New Mexico.
That day was the Ides of March. I’d just returned home at about 10:15 from my weekly trip for groceries, and was surprised to find a message from NMDOH, received on my computer at 9:47. It was the long-awaited invitation to a vaccination venue for Moderna vaccine. But my relief was replaced by visceral fury when I logged into my registration and found that the venue was already closed. The invitation was good for fewer – obviously, many fewer – than 25 minutes.
So, to the NMDOH, I want to vent my spleen in this public forum. You know from your vainglorious registration system how many people are in the queue for any pending venue, so plan that venue accordingly. If you have, for example, only six shots to dispense, then pick six eligible registrants at random and contact them, and only them. Don’t entice two-thousand registrants with the message “next in line … first-come, first-served,” and expect us to believe we’re being treated efficiently.
And give us a little heads-up, too: something like “On Monday, March 15th between 9:00 and 10:00 AM, we plan to invite you to the next vaccination venue in your area; be ready to respond immediately.” It can’t be that complicated to teach computer software to perform such a minor courtesy. My dentist, doctor, and veterinary offices provide electronic reminders routinely.
The Oxford American English Dictionary defines “efficient” with these words: “achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense; working in a well-organized and competent way.” The first definition perhaps satisfies egos at NMDOH. For all who wait, the second definition is what matters. As one still in that chaotic queue, I vociferously dispute its efficiency.