In retrospect, the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic was lackluster at best and nothing illustrates that better than the recent confusion — and apparent lack of planning — over the distribution of the vaccine.

Surely we can do better.

Readers may recall that late last week the state backed off on its earlier pledge to allow teachers and Oregonians older than 65 to receive the vaccine later this month. Now, because of an apparent lack of vaccine supplies, teachers and educators can start to receive the vaccine Jan. 25. People older than 80 can get the first shot Feb. 8.

Gov. Kate Brown blamed the Trump administration. She announced on Friday, Jan. 15, there will be no upsurge in vaccine shipments because there is no national reserve.

Brown said she would demand answers from the Trump administration and she was “shocked and appalled” the federal government can’t deliver on its promises regarding the vaccine.

We can sympathize with the governor. The sentiments of shock and confusion and frustration have become, by now, familiar earmarks of the pandemic. The sad fact, though, is it never had to be this way.

We are a great nation able to manufacture state-of-the-art weapons and cutting-edge vehicles. We could, if we wanted, nearly feed the world with our strong agriculture industry. Yet, we couldn’t manage to overcome a virus that should never have been a surprise.

Since the 1990s medical experts, journalists and other experts warned that a major pandemic — mostly likely the flu — would descend on the world soon. Reams of reports and a steady diet of nonfiction books carefully painted the danger looming on the horizon.

Nobody listened.

When the pandemic did arrive on our shores, politics, incompetency and a misguided approach stagnated the federal government’s response. The federal government took a 19th century view of the crisis and turned over the day-to-day battle against the virus to the states.

Brown is right to be frustrated. The rest of us should be, too. The only way to fight our way out of this pandemic is through vaccinations. Without a vaccine, the pandemic rolls on.

President-elect Joe Biden has proclaimed he will release more vaccine and faster than the Trump administration. We hope that is true.

Because the nation does not need more lip service when it comes to fighting the virus. And fighting a pandemic, with essentially one arm tied behind the back, hasn’t worked and won’t work.

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