By Eric Vallen
During late winter and through the spring months of this past year, daily cases and deaths from Covid-19 steeply dropped off as vaccination rates soared in most areas of the country; essentially stopping the spread of the virus in some regions. However, beginning in June, an exponentially increasing number of Covid cases due to the new Delta variant arose; especially devastating areas in which a large minority or even majority of residents have not received any form of vaccination or preventable measures against Covid. As of September 21, several health institutions have reported upwards of 280,000 new and preventable Covid cases that have accumulated in the last three months, which prompts the question, what’s stopping these people from receiving the vaccine?
Typically, common assumptions would place blame upon the numerous levels of government, claiming perhaps that their policy has created obstacles in the process of the distribution of the vaccine, the opposite is true. With no interference from the government, considering the release dates of the widely known and commercially available vaccines in December of 2020 and January of 2021, most people who truly desired that layer of protection have likely sought out and received it by now. The remaining unvaccinated, less than 30% of the adult population, stays as such primarily due to their political alignments, which through certain media outlets, directly provides them with vast amounts of misinformation, leading to their unvaccinated status.
In absolutely no world should the prospect of potentially saving lives be communicated through a medium occupied by battling political parties. However, this is the reality in our country. Whether or not one receives a vaccination should not be informed by what one views themselves as politically. Rather, it should be answered by simple, linear logical progression. Our political system, more specifically certain parts of the conservative side of the political spectrum, has done a disservice to the people of America in that they have disturbed that logical progression. Since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, conservative and “right-wing” media outlets have consistently challenged the recommendations of health organizations like the CDC, WHO, and the APHA (American Public Health System) claiming that restrictive & protective measures recommended to be taken against Covid are infringements upon the first amendment, and individual autonomy. As a result of this obsession with misleading political rhetoric, the right has deliberately placed their supporters and their voting base in a life-threatening situation.
Logically speaking, it would be clear to say that under nearly all circumstances, if the political candidate or party you supported was consciously trying to put you in danger, would you not withdraw your support? Evidently, the majority of conservatives who refuse to take the vaccine would say no. Due to the misinformation spread by their most trusted media outlets, the entire base of their logic in how they view the world has been skewed to the point that they will willingly follow their political idols into possible death and disability. Primary conservative activists and talking heads spew nonsense from their mouths, claiming that the extremely low chance of causing infertility in men, or the literal impossibility of the vaccine changing one’s DNA because of new MRNA technology are justifications for not taking the vaccine, and their viewers eat it up as the truth. Evidently, a large proportion of conservative viewers take little into consideration except what their media outlets say, likely attributing to the 39.9% vaccination rate in predominantly red counties, a considerable decrease in comparison to the 52.8% rate of blue counties.
The Coronavirus still holds dominance over the media and over our social platforms today because of the Unvaccinated peoples of America. Over 98% of the current hospital population that is classified as a covid patient is unvaccinated, per npr.org. Nearly all of the recent deaths from Covid have been from unvaccinated individuals. There are countless examples of outspoken individuals, writing off the vaccine as irrelevant and dangerous, only to die weeks later of the very virus they downplayed. Almost every single “Red” state has low vaccination rates, and is coincidentally experiencing enormous Covid surges. From a certain point of view, the pandemic of today is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, by the unvaccinated. we as a country cannot place blame upon people who have only been reacting accordingly to what they have been surrounded by for months on end. The sole, most blame-worthy group of people in perspective of the continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic is absolutely right-wing media. I don’t just speak of radical publications, I’m talking about FOX news and even the Wall Street Journal, publications that even to this day continue to recommend to readers and watchers to do their own research on the vaccine.. If not for the misinformation which began spreading from these news stations, tens of thousands of innocent people likely would not have died, and further hundreds of thousands wouldn’t have experienced the horrors of contracting the virus in the first place. In order to have unity or some resemblance of familiarity and trust between the “sides” of our polarized society, we must preserve truth and transparency in information, as only with such phenomena can we truly tackle the problems continuing to plague our country.