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Is politicization of vaccines counterproductive?

Getty Images/iStockphoto covid-19-getty-images-1205872351.jpg
Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden deserve credit for getting COVID-19 vaccines out quickly and saving lives.

As COVID-19 vaccines were being developed, I was fortunate to have access to two things I think many Americans have found sorely lacking: Clarity and honesty, from a scientific perspective.

My doctor and his wife took part in the vaccine trials as soon as they were available. A Christian conservative, he’s heard all the concerns and conspiracy theories. Yet as he studied the matter, he resolved that the vaccines were not only beneficial, but absolutely necessary to save lives and avoid a societal collapse. He’s cautioned my wife and me for years that everyone’s body has different reactions to medication, and unforeseen side effects are part of medicine. But he was all-in on the vaccines, and we trust him.

As such, we took our two jabs in the spring and are about to get the booster. I have no qualms about letting my company know we’re vaccinated, as it provides our health insurance and definitely has a stake in our well-being. I also would have no trouble letting a grower know I’m vaccinated when he lets me onto his property.

Related: Western states challenge vaccine mandates

Yet the harder President Joe Biden and other officials push to get Americans vaccinated, the more that vaccine hesitancy appears to be growing. Despite myriad local, state and looming federal mandates, only about 59% of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, compared to 65% in Europe and around 80% in the United Kingdom. Why is this?

Could it be that the heavy-handedness of rhetoric such as “our patience is wearing thin” and “pandemic of the unvaccinated” is causing some to have second thoughts as a matter of principle? Anyone who’s worked with small children, as my wife has for over 30 years, knows what happens when you have a war of wills with a 2-year-old. The rawest of human nature kicks in; they won’t do what you say even if they really want to.

Could it be that Big Tech and major media censor any discussion or debate about things like natural immunity or unintended side effects? Anyone in business knows that when you make a thing more rare and harder to find, you increase its value for some consumers.

Related: Mistrust fuels Latino vax hesitancy, study finds

Or could it be that we’re about to throw to the curb many of the same workers we called “essential” early in the pandemic, when they were put at more risk of contracting the virus than the rest of us? Any grower who employs farmworkers knows what these heroes went through to keep America’s food pantries stocked.

In my view, we should stop using the vaccines as a political weapon and give credit where it’s due. Both Biden and President Donald Trump deserve praise for getting the vaccines out quickly and saving millions of lives. And we need leaders and experts to be more straightforward about what the vaccines do and don’t do, so people can make truly informed decisions.

TAGS: Safety
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