This July 4th, a majority of Americans rejected the opening words of our Constitution, “We the People.”
I’m referring the >50% percent of Americans who still weren’t fully vaccinated from the still deadly Covid-19 and variants.
Yes, some were partly vaxxed. Some medically can’t vax. Some lack easy access.
But many have refused because of dubious doubts, outright lies, and unwarranted fears deliberately spread by right-wing “news” and internet bottom-feeders that make money gulling the gullible that their “truth” is the only truth to trust.
A leading vaccine doubt-sower, #1 Fox “personality” Tucker Carlson at #1 cable news channel Fox, likely got his vaccine; he’s being cagey about it and apparently doesn’t care who he’s killing for his $6 million annual salary.
Trump diehards are uniquely vax resistant. Many are rebels with an inexplicable cause. They reject live-saving shots simply to flip off the government, the coastal liberal elites, medical science, and the professional media pleading with them to get their shots to save their lives. They’re literally dying to “own the libs.”
No surprise: Nearly every Trump state suffers the worst Covid vaccination rate.
The 14 states below 40% vaccinated, per CDC, all voted for Trump, with Arkansas (34.52%), Alabama (32.9%) and Mississippi (29.89%) bringing up the rear.
Meanwhile, also no surprise, many of these states have the fastest-rising Covid cases.
Somehow, rejecting a life-saving, pandemic-ending vaccination is the new Trump Republican virtue-signaling. While some 93% of Democrats say they’ve gotten the shot or planned to, only 49% of Republicans said so, per a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken over July 4th weekend.
We the people who’ve responsibly masked and vaxxed have good reason to be upset with Covid deniers for spreading the pandemic. Their self-first sense of individual freedom over e pluribus unum has sickened and killed countless fellow Americans and kept the Covid shutdowns going while protesting them.
But let’s try to be understanding. Anti-vaxxers are people too.
Instead of bullying them, let’s accept their need for special convincing that getting the Covid shots is good for them, their friends, families and neighbors, the low-paid healthcare workers suffering exhaustion and PTSD from tending to dying Covid deniers, and the country they love more than anyone.
Republican pollster Frank Luntz and the de Beaumont public health foundation found in focus groups with right-leaning vaccine skeptics that “changing the conversation” can break through stubborn minds.
To quote de Beaumont:
· Their decision to get vaccinated came after their perceived risk of getting COVID-19 outweighed their concerns about the safety of the vaccines.
· They were motivated by things they want to be able to do, like travel, go to sporting events, and safely see friends and family.
· The most influential source of information about COVID-19 vaccines was a doctor, pharmacist, or other medical professional who they knew and trusted.
· They became more comfortable after seeing people they know get vaccinated without major complications. (This was much more important to them than seeing politicians, athletes, or other celebrities get the vaccine.)
· When asked about their thoughts about people who still say they won’t get vaccinated, many said they respect that position because everyone has the right to make their own decision, while others said those people are uninformed, misinformed, and “a little selfish.”
Anti-vaxxers may also wish to heed fellow deniers who fell critically ill, and their caregivers:
· “I do regret not getting the vaccine already because I would not want to go through this. … And any step we take towards ending this virus is a good step.” — ABC7, Carlsbad, Calif., quoting a hospital patient suffering Covid.
· “For the younger crowd that we’re getting upstairs right now, a lot of them are very regretful. They didn’t realize Covid was as bad as it was. Now, they’re going through a really bad time.” — FloridaToday.com, quoting a hospital respiratory unit nursing manager.
· “I didn’t want to be the guinea pig. I was just opposed to it. If could do it all over again, I’d get it. No doubt. What I went through is probably the worst I’ve ever seen.” — CNN.com, quoting a patient who spent four months in the hospital before getting a double-lung transplant days before dying.
The patient added, “Think about your family. Because what I went through, I had to put my family through, also. I wish people would at least reconsider, or at least listen to what we went through, and hopefully you never have to go through that — ever.”
· “I had thought I would wait to see what the vaccine does and let them get the kinks out before I have it.” — ABC5, Boston, quoting a hospital patient who struggled to breathe for three weeks, during which her frightened mother was also hospitalized.
“I may have said that on Facebook, which I regret, because I realize now, having been through this just how important it is to get herd immunity and get everybody vaccinated because this is something you may not come back from.”
· “Ross Bagne, a 68-year-old small-business owner in Cheyenne, Wyoming, was eligible for the vaccine in early February but didn’t get it. He died June 4, infected and unvaccinated, after spending more than three weeks in the hospital, his lungs filling with fluid. He was unable to swallow because of a stroke.
“‘He never went out, so he didn’t think he would catch it,’ said his grieving sister, Karen McKnight. She wondered: ‘Why take the risk of not getting vaccinated? … He was a very bright guy, I wish he’d gotten the vaccine, and I’m sad he didn’t understand how it could prevent him from getting it.’” — APNews.com, which cited CDC estimates that nearly all Americans dying from Covid are unvaccinated.
· In the St. Louis area, “The majority of [Covid hospital patients] express some regret for not being vaccinated. That’s a pretty common refrain …” — hospital administrator quoted by Modern Healthcare.
It’s tempting to call the Covid vax-resistant the all-time winners of the Darwin Awards.
Every year these “salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it in a spectacular manner!”
But vax resistance is no accident, and it’s not funny. It’s deliberate stubborn stupidity, reckless rebellion not only without a righteous cause, but without a care for their fellow Americans. How can we reach these people?
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.