Can we get with the program, please?
( @dollyparton / Instagram )
After over a year of COVID-19 ravaging the globe, we finally have three CDC approved vaccines to prevent the virus. As of Friday, about 10% of the United States population is fully vaccinated; About 19% has had at least one dose of the vaccine. Every day, more and more folks become eligible, and on Thursday, Biden even announced that everyone should be eligible to get their shots by May 1.
This is a lot of progress from even just six months ago, when the world was in a race to find the most effective vaccine so that as many people could get immunization. But now, look at us! We went from tracking COVID deaths to tracking vaccine rollout eligibility. Though the pace of vaccine rollout has been truly pitiful, things are overall hopeful.
But with all of these positive vaccine developments, of course the anti-vaxxers are out and ready to play. Recent studies have shown that over a third of republicans don’t want the vaccine. Last month, the New Yorker found that even a lot of healthcare workers are refusing it. Honestly, this lack of trust is something we all should have expected.
From the start of the pandemic, there were folks peddling essential oils as prevention and “immunity boosting” snake oil.
Aside from the anti-vaxx moms and MLM essential oil peddlers, the vaccine has received criticism from QAnon. These people were spreading the idea that the vaccine had a microchip in it because Bill Gates had funded vaccine efforts. This theory was quickly squashed by a lot of people meme dunking on the folks who were spreading the theory (largely on Facebook). Like, why put a microchip in the vaccine, when our phones can track us 24/7 anyways..
While I think that the essential oil folks and QAnon folks are entertaining in a sort of schadenfreude trainwreck kind of way, I choose not to waste my time discussing things like the vaccine with them.
The people who I am interested to hear from regarding their choice to get the vaccine are people like my peers. I would say about a quarter of folks I have spoken to just in my personal life are not interested in getting the vaccine. While some of these people may be a bit centrist for my taste, none of them are conspiracy theorists or anti-vaxxers. Most of them listen to NPR, read The Washington Post and have voted blue their entire lives.
Some reasons given for not feeling inclined to get the vaccine are the classic “I never get the flu shot, and I’ve never gotten the flu” or “I haven’t had a vaccine for this long, and I’ve been fine, so why get it now”. One reason that I find intriguing is that some say they don’t trust how fast it was produced or approved.
This is something even Vice President Kamala Harris noted during the now infamous Vice Presidential debate between her and Mike Pence late last year.
“But if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I'm not going to take it,” she said. She also noted in this debate that she would trust Dr. Fauci if he told citizens to take the vaccine.
Now, I get the logic here, I wouldn’t trust a vaccine that Trump told everyone was safe, especially if no one else had anything to say about it.
That being said, I’m not sure how much stock people are putting into Dr. Fauci either. Part of the fuel to so many of these conspiracy theories is the fact that unfortunately Dr. Fauci did tell the American people last year that masks did not prevent the spread of COVID-19. Of course, today we know that’s not true. But because there was such a huge lack of PPE for nurses and doctors, and they were worried about shortages.
Fauci has since said that he doesn’t regret his white lie. And perhaps it was for the best, but it certainly wasn’t good for the general public's trust in the government, which has likely added to hesitancy towards a vaccine for many people — even reasonable people.
Either way, I think it is reasonable for people to want to do their research before getting a vaccine and try to hear out both sides of the vaccine debate when reasonable. Personally, my ears are open until I hear people starting to talk about microchips, cashless society, the mark of the beast, or whatever else it is that the conspiracy theories are about anymore!
Ingrid O’Connor is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She loves poodles, Red Bull and late night talks with friends. Her big three are Pisces, Taurus & Libra and has paid for multiple professional astrological chart readings despite claiming she doesn’t believe in astrology.