We knew that vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans was going to be a monumental task. That the rollout has been slower than we hoped is exacerbated by how anxious most people are to get the vaccine.

Government — federal, state and county — can do more to even out the process to an accelerated and more steady flow. And citizens can do something, too: Be patient.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine in the nation’s first line of defense and most vulnerable — health care workers and residents and employees of long-term-care facilities — was an undisputed starting point. According to guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control, which states have largely followed, next come essential workers and people ages 65 and older.

The tiers and specifications go on from there, and that’s where the distribution gets even more complicated. While it makes sense that each state and county advance at similar rates, that isn’t necessarily what’s happening.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said on Thursday that Iowa hasn’t been getting as many doses per capita as other states. Reynolds has reached out to members of Congress for answers. The state’s federal representatives must advocate for Iowa, which has among the oldest populations of any state. Yet according to the Washington Post’s vaccine tracker, only 0.5% of Iowans have been fully vaccinated. Only four states have a lower percentage.

Then, as more vaccine is available, while officials must stick to the tiered rollout as much as possible, the progression must be balanced with common sense. If vaccine doses are ready and available in one county, it’s more important to get shots in arms than worry too much about all levels progressing at exactly the same rate. After all, just across the river in Wisconsin and Illinois, things have so far been moving more quickly.

That’s what government should strive to do. As for citizens, Job 1 is to wait patiently.

Dubuque County residents will receive a mailer in the coming week with information about vaccine access. Here’s a preview: Don’t call your doctor, the local hospital or the county courthouse to ask when you can get the vaccine. Local health care providers have been inundated with such calls. That takes up valuable time, and it’s not a question that they can readily answer right now.

When more information is confirmed, the news about vaccine availability will be widely shared, including in this newspaper as well as other media and at www.dubuquecounty.org/COVID19.

Here’s the most important thing: When you have an opportunity to get the vaccine, take it. Listen to health care professionals.

This vaccine is the pathway to return to life as we once knew it. None of the vaccines in use or in development in the U.S. contain the live COVID-19 virus. You cannot get the virus from the vaccine. More than 12 million people already have been vaccinated. Side effects ranged from nothing at all to a fever or headache that soon subsided.

Vaccinating a nation is an immense undertaking. Government must continue to advocate for our share and ensure a swift rollout. Citizens should roll up their sleeves and stand ready.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board.

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