Wait. Derek Blasberg, the fashion influencer, didn’t have enough influence to get a coronavirus vaccine for his 80-year-old father in Missouri? That’s terrible. Yet, somehow, curiously right.

There is one encouraging aspect to this vaccine shortage that is getting lost in all the frustration and anger: for once, the rich and powerful are mostly not benefiting from a V.I.P. express lane. Performers, hedge-fund tycoons, and media stars who are eligible for the vaccine have to go online to seek an appointment like everyone else. (Or pay someone to do the search for them.)

After decades of the rich believing that an AmEx black card is an all-access backstage pass to life, suddenly they’re on the wrong side of the velvet rope.

And shortcuts are tempting: the Biden administration is finalizing a bid to buy 200 million more doses, but, for now, the distribution mess left behind by the Trump administration is a misery shared by tens of millions. The dearth of vaccines is so dire that securing a spot—and not having it be canceled the next day—lies somewhere between scoring (pre-pandemic) a seat at an Ariana Grande concert before they sell out and winning the lottery.

Actually, the process itself is closer to playing the slot machines in a casino. Like retirees hugging buckets of coins to feed the one-armed bandits, vaccine seekers keep pressing the computer Refresh button hoping for an opening to pop up before the site crashes again. Instead of three cherries in a row, the win is Pfizer Pfizer Pfizer.

After decades of the rich believing that an AmEx black card is an all-access backstage pass to life, suddenly they’re on the wrong side of the velvet rope.

And those who don’t succeed are as disheartened as gamblers stuck on the bus back from Atlantic City listening to other passengers bray about the ace/10 they drew at the blackjack table. In other words, the inoculated few can be as irritating as the “smug marrieds,” whom Bridget Jones complained about in her diary: the smug vaccinateds.

Inoculation has created a new definition of haves and have-nots. And then there is this variant: famous people humble-bragging on social media. “I just got my vaccine!!!!! 🎉🎶🎶,” Mia Farrow tweeted. A few hours later, after some sour responses (@AmyLeeWiz: “keep your good fortune to yourself”), Farrow added: “Btw I waited for my turn.” Others hope to lead by example by not getting the shot: Dr. Kenneth Davis, the C.E.O. of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, who is 74, held off until people 65 and over were eligible, and is still waiting for his second dose. Meanwhile, his hospital had to cancel close to 5,000 appointments in recent days.

This past spring, when coronavirus tests were scarce, the competition for them looked like class conflict—people with money and connections could get tested at will, while their doormen, domestics, and drivers could not.

Now the race to score the vaccine is more of a generational divide, pitting younger workers, who are losing incomes, against the hordes of retired baby-boomers, who, as they have done since the day they were born, are sucking up all the resources. Think about it: Why are baby-boomers—many of whom are retired or in a position to work from home—getting vaccines, while millennials and Gen Z-ers, who need to go back to work, are not able to get them? It’s the opposite of ageism: it’s gerontophilia. (I’m all for it, by the way; it almost makes up for having to admit in public to being 65.)

The Golden Girls advantage won’t change anytime soon. But as the coronavirus death rate in the U.S. inches closer and closer to half a million, even the most entitled—and oblivious—Americans have come to understand that the pandemic has disproportionately devastated ordinary people. For a hedge-fund manager with two or more houses, quarantine is an inconvenience. For cabdrivers, waiters, delivery people, librarians, musicians, grocery-store cashiers, and assembly-line workers, the coronavirus is an imminent danger that has already ravaged their livelihoods and, in so many cases, their families. So far, it appears whites are being vaccinated at more than twice the rate of people of color. The more fortunate are recognizing belatedly that if this is, as Biden says, a war, then the hardships should be shouldered more fairly.

Some cities are trying to level the social playing field themselves. Washington, D.C., this week announced 1,745 appointments available to eligible residents who live in priority Zip Codes. Though there are also slots available for all D.C. residents over 65, the Zip Codes omitted from the priority list include Georgetown, the historic neighborhood that is home to real-estate tycoons, diplomats, and politicians such as Nancy Pelosi, and most of Kalorama, where Ivanka and Jared had rented the 6.5 bathroom, $5.5 million house (the one they allegedly wouldn’t let their Secret Service guards in to use the .5 toilet).

Are some 1-percenters breaking the rules and cutting in line? Of course. Concierge doctors and hospital administrators say they are being flooded with requests from friends, family, and donors. And if they can’t get the shot here, the desperate can certainly fly to Dubai, where a brisk vaccine-for-sale market has earned it the nickname “Covid Casablanca.”

And some do. The New York Times recently wrote about a luxury-travel service in London that organizes $15,000 “vaccination holidays” in the United Arab Emirates. But the backlash can go viral, as Mexican TV host Juan José Origel, 73, found out when he tweeted a picture of himself getting the vaccine in a car in Florida. The outrage shook the Internet.

Hospital administrators are under intense pressure—trustees and donors are accustomed to extra T.L.C. and might feel less generous when the crisis abates.

But all kinds of cautionary exposés keep popping up to inhibit top medical centers from diverting vaccines to their wealthy patrons. Florida’s inspector general is investigating the MorseLife Health System, a luxury private nursing home in West Palm Beach, for allegedly making the vaccine available not just to its residents and staff but to board members and donors, including members of the Palm Beach Country Club.

The Seattle Times reported that last week the Overlake Medical Center & Clinics, in Bellevue, Washington, e-mailed more than 100 high-roller donors ($10,000 or more) that appointments for the vaccine were available to eligible persons. The center apologized after the governor’s staff called to complain.

In Canada, Rodney Baker, 55, the C.E.O. of Great Canadian Gaming Corp., a casino company, had to quit in disgrace this week after he and his wife, Ekaterina Baker, 32, were caught posing as motel workers in a remote town in the Yukon to get shots reserved for local residents, many of whom are elderly members of the White River First Nation. (This being Canada, the Bakers were also fined $1,800.)

So a lot of would-be rule breakers are being scared straight.

As for Derek Blasberg’s father? The last we heard, he was still waiting.