One of the greatest services our readers provide to us are the questions they ask.

It helps us direct coverage and provide information that the readers want. Sometimes, as chief compilers of information, we can make mistakes and leave out details readers want to know.

Recently, we’ve been receiving numerous phone calls, emails and letters asking what seem to be simple questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

These readers have been presented information on the efficacy of the vaccine, the importance of it, how the trials were run and the medical breakthroughs that have transpired to create the vaccine.

But what is scarce are the details on how individuals ready to protect themselves from COVID can actually get the shots.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear, across the board answer right now. Our front page today does contain some news on limited availability in Wapello County. We’ll pass along anything we hear from other area counties.

There’s this concept in the social media era known as F.O.M.O., which stands for “fear of missing out.” While, frankly, awaiting further instruction to filter out is about the gist of current guidance, people are clearly concerned they might miss something.

There are quite a few people out there that are ready to get the shot because they want to be protected. They understand it works, they understand there’s minimal risk and side effects reported. They understand it’s been shown to be over 95% effective. They’ve made an informed decision to be vaccinated.

But supply remains scarce, and the rollout has been chaotic and uncontrolled from the top down. There’s no simple template, so from state to state, and even county by county, there’s minimal uniformity in the process. It’s not efficient, and it complicates the necessary messaging campaign.

There have been some counties that are keeping waiting lists — others started to, but since stopped. The county public health departments themselves aren’t sure how many vaccines they’ll receive each week, and sometimes they may not receive any.

So what do you do if you want the vaccine, particularly if you’re in a vulnerable category? Well, keep reading the papers, stay tuned to your local television and radio news stations, stay engaged to official sources on social media, and maybe let your primary care physician know you’re interested in being first in line for the shot. (Wapello County Public Health does not keep a waiting list, and prefers no calls as their staffing is limited.) At this point, it’s a waiting game — and one that may last weeks and months.

It’s not the answer anyone wants to hear, and it frustrates us to report it. There’s nothing any local officials have done wrong to cause this, they are at the mercy of the system at the point just as we all are. We will continue to hunt for answers, just as they do themselves.

We’ll get to the finish line together. Until then, keep wearing your masks, keep social distancing, keep limiting your trips outside the home as much as possible, and stay home if you’re sick.

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