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Why vaccine evangelism fails and how to fix it
I caught quite a bit of flack from yesterday’s post about “COVID forever war” which in no small part is, I think, due to some misunderstanding. I was not, and am not, sowing doubt about the effectiveness of vaccines, or the need for everyone to get one. Everyone age 16 and over should get vaccinated.
I do believe that the media has, in an attempt to corral eyeballs, gone with stories that are marginal at best, about how people who are fully vaccinated got COVID-19. Just Google “breakthrough COVID” and you’ll find lots of results. This is pretty unhelpful when people are trying to decide whether it’s personally worth going through the vaccination process, which for many people involves feeling pretty sick for a day or two.
To counter misinformation on the vaccines, most government programs focus on presenting facts (which, again, play into the media hype), that vaccination is needed to achieve “herd immunity.” Then again, USA Today published a piece last week with the headline “Is herd immunity to COVID-19 possible? Experts increasingly say no.” Well, which is it? If we need to get to herd immunity, but that’s impossible, then we might as well mask forever.
There’s a thing called COVID fatigue. It’s characterized by being sick of being cooped up, masked, and economically limited because of the pandemic. The vaccines were supposed to be the ticket out of this, but we’re hearing mixed messages. If this were a religious tent revival, it would be like hearing the evangelist say “Jesus is the answer!” and then qualify it by saying “well, if you give your life to Jesus you might not get to heaven, or even have a better life, but hey do it anyway.”
Again, it’s no surprise that folks are starting to lose interest in getting their second shot, or get a shot at all. With failures like D.C.’s graphic, government folks are not doing themselves or the nation any favors.
Make Vaccination Great Again
There are some things the government can do to make vaccination great again.
Let’s look at West Virginia, which is bribing people to get vaccinated.
The state announced that individuals aged 16-35 will be given a $100 savings bond once they get their vaccine. Republican Gov. Jim Justice said on Monday that the plan was put in place to “jump-start” the demographic to get it.
“Our kids today probably don’t really realize just how important they are in shutting this thing down,” Justice said. “I’m trying to come up with a way that’s truly going to motivate them, and us, to get over the hump.”
Money is a good motivator. The American Rescue Act (aka The Great Inflator) gives out all kinds of money for “infrastructure” but didn’t include a bounty for Americans to get vaccinated. People give blood and plasma for money; paying them to get vaccinated it not a bad idea, and would help bring the numbers up. More states should do what West Virginia is doing.
Don’t politicize it…oops, too late
Ideally, vaccination should not be politicized. But in reality, it is already political. The Biden administration is trying to take credit for “building it all from scratch” when Operation Warp Speed was a Trump administration effort. By denying Trump any credit for getting the vaccines ready (while the entire media kept claiming it’s impossible), half the country is being told to deny reality and not believe their own eyes.
The media and Biden have pivoted so much around the ball they’d get a traveling violation or a double dribble if this were a basketball game.
In reality, the Trump plan handed Biden a fully-formed, ready to go program for vaccine production and distribution. It’s true Trump took his eye off the ball for a month or so after the election to pursue his insane attempt to hold on to power. But by January 20th, there were two vaccines online and a third about to obtain emergency authorization. The fact that 140 million Americans have had at least one dose and achieved about 80% immunity by May is an incredible feat.
The Biden administration should give public credit to Trump, and let Trump have his words (believe me, he’ll take them). This will go a long way toward breaking the “own the libs” idiocy permeating the vaccine resistance crowd. If getting folks vaccinated is truly above politics, then it should be above letting Trump get some credit, which he actually deserves.
Stop half measures
If we focus on getting people vaccinated, the Biden administration needs to coordinate with the CDC and state health authorities to focus on vaccinations and not “erring on the side of caution.” The goalpost is not “zero COVID” which is impossible. The goal is getting people back to work, back to school, and back to life.
Let me be clear: the Biden administration should recommend that all mask mandates end. They should tell America that mask wearing is a personal choice, that it’s done to limit further spread of the virus among the unvaccinated. If people want to mask up, fine, let’s not harass them for doing it. But if vaccinated people want to unmask, why shame them? Why focus on the exceptions, the one in 10,000, than the rule, which is if you are vaccinated, your chance of being infected is very low; and your chance of dying from COVID-19 if you are infected is nearly infinitesimal.
We need a full court press toward full vaccination. We don’t need half measures filled with fear, what-ifs, and “COVID forever.”
For evangelism to work, we need to be preaching a solution. Vaccination works, but the government is shooting itself in the foot by making people worry, denying the politics, and not giving any incentive for getting the vaccine.
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