Another Leadership Failure
The Great State of Texas received its first allotment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on December 14, 2020. The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) had a plan for distribution of these vaccines along with the Moderna vaccines arriving in the following weeks and a plan for distribution of those. The plan used by DSHS gave priority to front line health care workers for the first 224,250 doses received. In total, these doses went to 23 sites across the state which guaranteed vaccination of at least 975 persons at each site. Christus Spohn Health System Shoreline was slated to receive their initial shipment on December 15, 2020. It is the only place in the Coastal Bend to received vaccines from the first shipment.
Why go over information over a month old? With the initial vaccines being shipped throughout the State, a good leader would have already had lists available for who, specifically, in the County were considered 1A and 1B and then updated the list every day. If this leader did not have the list, he/she would have delegated someone to start generating it.
On January 19, 2021, Aransas County was allocated 300 doses of the vaccine which had to be distributed quickly. In his memo to the County dated January 26, 2021, Judge Mills stated in paragraph six the County had to “get it administered as quickly as possible to citizens who were simply “in the right place at the right time”.” The next day, he had this statement removed and replaced it with “In retrospect, had last minute notice been given, or advertising done, we fear it would have resulted in a huge, unorganized cluster of citizens with no direction, left angry and confused as to why they did not receive a vaccine.”
I have heard this story before. The previous emergency declaration effecting every person in the County was Hurricane Harvey. For anyone not “connected”, information was sporadic, early response was not coordinated and, in my opinion, any emergency response plan the County had was disregarded. The biggest issue after Hurricane Harvey was information gathering and distribution. At no time during the run up or directly after the hurricane was there an accurate count of persons who stayed or left.
Anyone who has had any training in emergency or crisis management knows information is paramount and preparedness is key. There will always be something which is not addressed during planning. Having a plan and using it, though, can minimize the impact of unforeseen circumstances.
Back to current leadership issues –
There are rumors of people not on the 1A or 1B list getting the vaccine at the event on January 20, 2021. These rumors may be true, I have no direct evidence one way or the other and will not speculate. With the Judge stating in the January 26 memo people were “in the right place at the right time” shows disregard for any prior planning which may have happened along with poor communications. It also shows we have leaders at the County level who do not plan accordingly when given more than a month to generate the information needed or pre-plan for an event to the best of their abilities.
Have all the front line medical workers including EMTs and patrolling police officers received the vaccine? How about the staff for the jail? Have the staff and residents of the local long-term care facilities received the vaccine?
Planning and communication are vital to good governance. True leaders communicate to everyone. True leaders delegate and then follow up. Leaders are answerable to those they lead without hiding behind the person to which the task was delegated. If a leader cannot or will not do these things, it must be time to move on to other endeavors. May I suggest retirement?