When a New York nurse became the first person in the U.S. to receive the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine, even President Trump’s critics heralded the moment as a victory in the fight against the virus that has killed 350,000 Americans. It seemed a partial vindication of Trump’s reliance on vaccines rather than social distancing and mask mandates to contain the pandemic.

Just three weeks later, however, the country’s vaccine roll-out is an utter mess. The federal government is chiefly to blame, but states and local officials, all of whom had many weeks to prepare for what everyone knew would be a massive logistical challenge, have been caught tragically flat-footed as well.

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