Vaccine Mandates Fly in the Face of the Anti-Science, Pro-Pandemic Crowd
Even as health statistics and hospitalizations show that it is the unvaccinated who are both getting sick and allowing the Covid pandemic to linger and mutate, fighting over vaccines has become a national sport. No surprise: yesterday’s presidential call to arms is being resisted by Republican governors.
Much has been made of the surprisingly fierce resistance to the continuing spread of vaccinations and masking requirements in business, schools, the military and government and of the irony that the very same people who resist are promoting alternative treatments that ignore medical science for social media-promoted home remedies. Vaccine averse people are lining up for treatment at overwhelmed hospitals, particularly across the South and Midwest.
The continuing mutation of the virus and a slew of confusing announcements about who, when and what brand of booster shots we might be seeking both are vexing. The main problem remains the size of an unvaccinated population.
The only way to return to some sense of normalcy remains to get as many people vaccinated as possible…
It all finally prompted President Joe Biden to go public with the outlines of a renewed public vaccination campaign to encourage, no demand, that private companies vaccines and testing. Biden defied the building political opposition from partisan opponents who link vaccines with anti-authoritarianism.
His plans may be less than specific and overly bossy, but they promote the notion that the only way to return to some sense of normalcy remains to get as many people vaccinated as possible now that the FDA has given its official imprimatur to the vaccine.
But for Republican governors in Texas, Florida and South Dakota or leaders at the Republican National Committee, Biden’s sweeping demands for employer mandates across the nation are too much authoritarianism.
They would prefer disease to rules: Give me Liberty and give me Death.
Teens Are Lagging
Of all of the statistics being thrown around with abandon, the one that stands out is this: Teens are not showing up to take the vaccine.
Percentages varying by state. But since May, at least two of three teens have not gotten shots.
Teen vaccines are as little as 11% in some states like Florida, where Republican governors have been active in discouraging mandated programs among school districts, says the Centers for Disease Control. At the same time, we’re seeing a huge increase in the raw numbers of teen Covid cases, and a substantial number of deaths, to say nothing of the hundreds of school districts that already have been interrupted since the start of school.
It seems impossible to believe that 85% of teens are the children of the 30 percent of adults who are vaccine hesitant, though no one seems to be taking that kind of measurement. With all due respect to adults with serious questions for themselves about vaccine mandates, the question is why they would put their teens and younger children without access to vaccines at above-average risk?
NPR made an attempt to ask teens, finding most frequently answers reflecting youthful delay and denial. Basically, lots of teens said they were still deciding about the vaccine since it became available in May.
Where is personal responsibility here? Where is self-protection or a family decision to keep even our own safe?
The Wider Effect
As primary as the concern is for individual health, there is widening acknowledgment that Covid is not disappearing any time soon. We should stop the militaristic talk of defeat of Covid and deal instead with containment strategies.
The only reasonable response is to change the current arguments away from the personal liberty debate and promotion of alternative animal-worm treatments back to the main event. How we are keeping Covid alive in this country and allowing it to strengthen?
Images of football stadiums filled with 10s of thousands of unmasked fans don’t hearten the soul. By now, each of us must know someone falling sick even with shots as stronger mutations emerge.
The insistence on vaccine hesitancy and its adoption as a Republican stance is serving to keep America a continuing laboratory for mutations. Each new mutation seems one step more advanced, able to bypass the reach of the current vaccines. And the current crop of vaccines are showing loss of efficacy after several months.
As individuals, we’re going to take booster for a long time to come – or risk more hospitalization and death.
A friend forwarded a new Japanese study that concludes that the delta variant Spike protein is maybe mutations away from being completely resistant to antibody neutralization by the current vaccines, according to tests in mice.
Oversimplified, the idea is each mutation builds on its predecessors and adds defenses that neutralize previous vulnerabilities.
The question we should be asking is whether we are preparing to live with the mutations, and what steps we need to take to lessen the impacts.