Since when did anti-vaxxers go mainstream?
The governor of Arkansas told one of the Sunday TV talk shows that vaccination skeptics were "troubling." Others could go further, saying vaccination skeptics are dangerous. To themselves most of all.
We are reminded of those few Americans who opposed fluoride in water systems back in the 1960s and 1970s--because fluoride is a poison, and too much of it could kill you. (The people who wrote letters saying as much never explained that too much water can kill you, too.) Some thought fluoridation was a Soviet plot to dumb-down our kids. (But they never explained why the few rural districts that didn't add fluoride to their water were so far behind in test scores.) Once the Soviets disappeared, they came up with more conspiracies. We remember the man who laid it all out for us only a few years back. We note that his teeth were awful, discolored and crooked.
Folks who buy non-fluoridated water, fluoride-free toothpaste, and don't mind bad teeth only hurt themselves. But modern anti-vaxxers can hurt an entire community, or nation, or world. The latest theory is that the covid-19 shots help the authorities track you. The best answer to that came from John Brummett on the opposite page a few days ago: Your phone is already tracking you.
Frank Lockwood, of this paper's Washington beat and so many others, reports a new CBS poll: A third of Republicans across the nation say they won't get vaccinated. Not even 50 percent say they will or have received the shots. And surprisingly, the most opposition comes from those younger than 65. In fact, according to the story: "Young Republicans, particularly those under age 45, were more likely to question the vaccination efforts, the poll shows." But we all know how polls work: Ask the question a certain way if you want a certain answer.
The governor of Arkansas, who has been given this pandemic as other governors have been given recessions and weather disasters, said he sees the poll numbers and realizes there's a problem: "In Arkansas, it's a very pro-Trump state in terms of the last election, and so we see that resistance."
Is there really more resistance to getting the vaccine in Arkansas than in some other, bluer, states? It seems Arkansas has used more than 71 percent of the vaccines the state has received, according to the CDC. That does seem on the low side, but it trails not just blue states but some red states, too. Some states have used 80 percent or more of their shots.
Which brings us to . . . . (Part I)
Donald and Melania Trump received the covid-19 vaccine in January, at the White House, when they still lived there.
Donald Trump spent time at his CPAC conference in February urging supporters to get the shot, which he said didn't hurt.
Donald Trump has said--many times--that his administration deserves the credit for overseeing Operation Warp Speed: "Never let them forget this was us," he told CPAC. "We did this."
Well, several very large drug companies did this. But the Trump administration deserves a lot of credit for placing its early bets on them. We doubt any other president would have taken the steps he did to get the vaccinations done as quickly with such huge financial incentives to the drug companies.
There is no political or logical or sentient reason that a state that voted mostly for Donald Trump in November 2020 should be anti-vaccine in 2021.
Which brings us to . . . . (Part II)
Dr. Anthony Fauci said something the other day that made a lot of sense: Why doesn't Donald Trump start a vaccination campaign? He could use his popularity, and his vaccination example, to convince some of that 33 percent of Republicans to change their minds:
"If he came out and said, 'Go and get vaccinated. It's really important for your health, the health of your family and the health of the country,' it seems absolutely inevitable that the vast majority of people who are his close followers would listen to him," Dr. Fauci said. And he said it on Fox News, so the former president might have been listening. It could also help stop the politicization of vaccinations.
On average, 2.5 million Americans get the shot every day now. But the pandemic won't end until the percentages of vaccinated go beyond the majority into the super-majority. Donald Trump could do wonders by making one commercial.
Or giving one more interview on Fox News.
Which brings us to . . . .
Will there be a Part III?