A healthcare worker receives a second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Beaumont Health in Southfield, Michigan, on January 5, 2021. (AP Photo / Paul Sancya)
America’s biggest public health crisis is increasingly partisan: Democratic areas are getting heavily vaccinated, while Republican areas stay far behind. This is a particularly big problem as the Delta variant spans the entire country, with the overwhelming majority of hospitalizations and 99% of deaths among the unvaccinated.
In terms of persuading the unvaccinated, there is a difference between hesitancy and rejection of the vaccine. The ranks for the “wait and see” vaccines are disproportionately Black and Latino, although they remain a majority white and conservative. But the contingent of “wait and see” is shrinking rapidly over timeand dissipating especially quickly in the face of outreach campaigns and fear of the Delta variant.
It is the category of vaccine rejection that is the most worrying. TO a third of white conservatives they say they will refuse to receive the COVID vaccine, a superficially shocking result for the culture that bills itself as one of personal responsibility and “pro-life” in the face of a deadly pandemic.
The partisan inflection of the rejection of vaccination has been reflected in strange laws passed in red states, from Florida. penalize vaccine passports or use vaccination status for any reason to Tennessee, including abandon the scope of vaccination minors for some vaccines. The governors of South Carolina and Missouri are pledging to reject federal door-to-door outreach efforts in their states.
The reasons for conservative vaccinations are simple and complex. Part of this is directly the result of partisan politics and the sociopathic interest of the hosts of Donald Trump and Fox News. Trump thought that taking the pandemic seriously would hurt the economy and therefore his chances of re-election, so he played it down at all times. Fox News sees an advantage in stoking fury over the alleged overreach of liberal do-gooders in government, and has an almost seditious interest in the Biden administration failing to meet its vaccination targets.
But it also has to do with increasing rejection of science and a lower confidence in the overall experience among Republicans that corresponds to realignment for educational reasons. It is based in part on conspiracy theories that refuse to admit that the virus is real or worse than the flu. And it’s tied to the libertarian white supremacist culture in which certain types of conservatives foolishly and arrogantly assume that they are too inherently fit, immune, and close to nature to be harmed by the virus.
An insensitive blue state might respond with a certain ironic social Darwinism about all this. But these are fellow Americans who have been the victims of street vendors and scammers, from Tucker Carlson to Donald Trump and his local pastors. Hospitals and frontline workers are overwhelmed by unvaccinated delta variant COVID patients. Unvaccinated variant carriers are a Petri dish to create new and potentially even more damaging variants. And unfortunately, while the vaccinated are in far less risk of death and serious hospitalization than unvaccinated, the Delta variant has been shown disturbingly capable of breaking the vaccine barrier and cause mild to moderate illness even among those vaccinated, with unknown long-term health implications. If the unvaccinated turn COVID into an endemic disease to which we never achieve herd immunity, it will affect us all for generations.
So what can be done? A recent highly ridiculed Article to National review blamed (surprise!) government officials and the media for making vaccine-resistant people feel “disrespected.” This is fun from the “facts don’t care about your feelings” crowd, and it’s also off putting. How much more must Blue America go to great lengths to pamper the sensitive emotions of people who insist that their supposedly superior genes and crossfit regimes will keep them from having to wear “face diapers” like those weak liberals, who want the President Bleach Injections be reinstated unconstitutionally? in office, and that the main villain of the COVID pandemic is Anthony Fauci? They know Donald Trump got the vaccine, and they don’t care, and it’s not like they’re affected by messages coming from the blue state or government bureaucracies. New York Times.
What we do know is that the most reliable sources of information for them tend to be word of mouth and their own doctors. Often, however, these physicians are what’s more involved in the same cultural conflict as their patients. And it is clear that the advice of medical professionals alone is not enough to make a difference. Fox News’ Constant Vaccine Denial it is much more influential.
If Fox News and Donald Trump presented a concerted case to their supporters and audiences to get the vaccine, it could make a big difference. But they’re not likely to do that because if they cared about their followers and audiences, well, it wouldn’t be Fox News and Donald Trump. They thrive on stoking white Christian grievances, not with responsible government.
In the end, moving toward greater vaccine acceptance may simply be a matter of incentives. There is no good ethical reason not to simply pay people to get vaccinated. Culture speaks, but also money. Beyond that, the movements that are being made in many European countries to boost vaccine passports. it can be necessary. Certainly many red states will act (and in some cases have already done so) to ban them. But if vaccine passports become routine in blue areas, they will push conservatives in those areas toward vaccination if they want to watch sporting events or concerts and participate in civic life. And from blue counties account for 70% of GDPBroad corporate and institutional practices in those areas will trickle down in various ways to the rest of the 30% of the country.
Unless we want to embark on a bitter and bloody divorce, we have to solve this problem together. And there is no reason why responsibly vaccinated people should continue to put themselves and their children at risk of fooling the conservative snowflakes who put their identity culture at war and Fox News’s obsession with the value of life. We too deserve to be able to go back to living a normal life in unmasked concerts and restaurants without fear of being infected by a conservative who never bothered to make any sacrifices. Whatever we have to do to get there, we should do it.