Well we are at that point in time where just about everyone who wants a vaccination has either gotten one or can easily get one one. What we are left with is the anti-vaxxer and anti-scientific right. And the question whether or not we can reach herd immunity in this country.
Once anti-vaccine rhetoric became normal on the right, the goal of herd immunity to stop the spread of COVID-19 was put into serious question. “Despite half of Americans getting the shot, Apoorva Mandavilli of the New York Times writes, “vaccination rates are slipping, and there is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold is not attainable — at least not in the foreseeable future, and perhaps not ever.”
There is a lot less talk about reaching herd immunity and a lot more about vaccinating as ,many people as possible which will cause the infection rate to decline. From then on the disease can be “managed.”
There’s a lot of reasons that herd immunity is simply unachievable in the current situation, but there is no doubt that ” “skepticism” about the vaccines among many Americans is playing a major role. Anyone who has been paying attention in recent months understands what this means:
“There is no doubt that skeptics has been steadily climbing, in response to a heavy push from Fox News to demonize the vaccine and the spread of anti-vaccination conspiracy theories on social media. ”
Now I don’t think that millions of people are going to forgo an easy, free injection which can save their life because Fox News says so. No. This anti-vaxx propaganda only works because it is built on decades of right wing hostility to scientific expertise as a virtue and rejection of the very idea that there is any such thing as the common good.
One can always be skeptical; there were many hard questions of the CDC and the beginning of the pandemic. Questions rooted in a strong understanding of medicine and public health.
That, however is far different from the reflexive suspicion of scientific experts.
Climate change denialism is the most obvious. Republican voters largely bought into the ludicrous conspiracy theory that climate change was a hoax perpetrated by academics who had ulterior motives, usually of the “Marxist” variety. But worse still is the idea that a random GOP voter with a big ego knows more than the experts; the idea has become pervasive.
Then of course we have those who believe the vaccine contains a chip which will allow the government to track our every move. so that American patriots can be eliminated by Jewish space lasers.
This all started decades ago when a British quack doctor who was de-licensed began writing papers claiming the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine was responsible for autism. There was not and has never been a shred of evidence supporting this claim. Nonetheless, it was picked up by rag tabloids, media outlets and eventually social media and Hollywood celebrities.
Europe’s four-fold increase in measles cases and 35 measles-related deaths in 2017 — due largely to people not getting vaccinated In the U.S., measles was declared eliminated in 2000. Since 2000, however, there has been a resurgence of measles, with more than 2,216 reported cases. Anti-vaccine fanaticism contributed to the 2015 outbreak in Disneyland in California, which eventually infected more than 130 people, and to the 2017 measles outbreaks in Minnesota, where many parents refused to vaccinate their children.
These attitudes have leaked out beyond just the hardcore right. Now, large portions of the public that may not think of themselves as right-wingers nonetheless have adopted the idea that they, armed with a Google search engine and unearned confidence in their own opinions, know better than the experts.
You have all heard rants about how “a healthy person” who is “exercising all the time” and is “young and eating well” shouldn’t bother to get the vaccine because the risk of dying of COVID-19 is low. The message here is that the “young and healthy” (aren’t we all) should not get vaccinated as doing so is only a sacrifice benefiting others.
Conservative, white communities of Appalachia have become bastions of anti-vaccine sentiment. These folks look dimly on anything perceived as the common good. Indeed, the messaging coming from government officials about the vaccine is backfiring precisely because it emphasizes community spirit and science. Instead, folks interviewed by the Times spoke of how “me and my family can take care of ourselves.”
I never got Small Pox when I was a kid. Nor Diphtheria. Nor Measles or Mumps. I did catch Rubella and Chicken Pox.
But the one biggie I didn’t get was Polio. My parents believed in the science and lined up me and my two brothers for the Salk vaccine.
In closing, I don’t think we will ever reach herd immunity; certainly not in my lifetime. There are too many nay-sayers out there, from plain fools to bat shit crazy.
On theother hand I will feel no pity when it is the un-vaccinated who fill up hospital ER beds gasping for air.
I shall make sacrifice to Nemesis, .she who enacts retribution against those who succumb to hubris and arrogance before the gods.