A health care worker receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 21, 2020, in Houston, Texas.

The swift development of highly effective vaccines for the novel coronavirus was a marvel of modern science, holding out the prospect of an early end to a pandemic that has rampaged across the country. But creating vaccines is one thing; getting them administered is another. That part of the process is not a marvel but a muddle.

In mid-December, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that 20 million Americans would get shots by the end of the year. By Jan. 8, 21.4 million doses had been distributed, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – but only 5.9 million had been administered. In Illinois, only 28 percent of the 737,000 doses have actually found their way into arms.