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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Spread vaccination facts

April 7, 2021 at 3:20 a.m.

Perhaps some public service announcements would help.

There is this real thing called vaccine hesitancy in which members of the public, for a variety of reasons, are not inclined to get a covid-19 vaccinations.

Right now, Arkansas has fully vaccinated some 16% of the state, while across the United States, almost 18% are now fully covered.

That is not nearly enough to get to a state of herd immunity, which requires around 70% of the public to be inoculated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And now we hear that there has been a dropoff in the number of people standing in lines to get shots.

The Commercial talked to a few college students at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff recently, and listening to these young people certainly opened some eyes.

Almost all of the students said they would not be getting the vaccines. Some said they had had covid already and didn't feel any ill effects, and they didn't see any reason to get a vaccine that might have side effects.

"I'm just better without it," said one student. "I am young, and my immune system is good. I wear my mask when I have to."

Another student said she didn't trust the vaccine and was into conspiracy theories. "I just feel like this could be like reducing the population," the student said. "I just don't trust it."

It reminded us a recent Saturday Night Live skit in which, in game-show fashion, a doctor tried to convince reluctant members of his family to get the vaccines, even by bribing them., but to no avail. One woman, the doctor's aunt, said she couldn't take the vaccine because she was a Christian. The exasperated nephew asked her where she had heard such a thing. "Facebook," she said.

Obviously, this is not a laughing matter. The point, however, is to get beyond these misperceptions and increase the number of people being vaccinated. That is proving to be a difficult task.

With any campaign to do anything, the first few participants are usually the easy ones to convince. The ones after that take more arm twisting. And it's going to take some of that.

Maybe some public service announcements or a full-fledged ad campaign on getting the vaccine is now in order. As we have all learned, the internet in general and social media in particular provide fertile ground for false information to take root in and flourish. For these vaccine numbers to get to the desirable level, the public is going to have to be immersed in factual information and lots of it -- enough that those college students see it and understand that they might possibly be making a mistake by not getting the vaccine.

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