July 19, 2021

My NY Times news feed this morning lead with an article on the beginnings of a shift in people getting the virus vaccine.  It noted that while a few weeks ago it seemed the virus might be in permanent retreat, the Delta variant has changed the situation, and cases are rising in all 50 states.  While vaccinated people remain almost guaranteed to avoid serious symptoms, the variant has put unvaccinated people at a greater risk of hospitalization and death.  According to the CDC, more than 99 percent of recent deaths and more than 97 percent of recent hospitalizations have occurred among the unvaccinated in the US.  On Friday, Biden commented, “Now, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.”  Saying no appears to have consequences.

When I checked online, I found that all 50 states reported more covid-19 cases over the last week than the week before.  According to the CDC, this represents a nearly 70% spike overall in the average number of daily cases.  Arkansas continues to be the nation’s top state for new cases per capita.  Only 35% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated, a number that has remained constant for the last month.  Arkansas has a history of a lax response to the pandemic and was one of only seven states that did not issue a stay-at-home order for nonessential activities in March and April 2020.   As the return to school approaches, Arkansas joined six other states in restricting public schools from requiring coronavirus vaccinations or documentation of vaccination status.  Saying no is now a legal matter.

The focus of the Times article was on a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in January, which asked whether Adults in America planned to get vaccinated.  The survey found 23% of those polled said no.  When Kaiser recently followed up on the poll, they found about one quarter of those who said no had decided to get the shot.  The article pointed to three main themes for their rethinking.  The first was seeing millions of other Americans safely vaccinated.  This suggests emphasizing the safety of the vaccines, rather than just the danger of Covid, may help persuade more people to get a shot.  The second was hearing pro-vaccine messages from doctors, friends, and relatives.   Many Americans, and especially those without a college degree, do not trust mainstream institutions and hearing from people they know has a greater impact.  The third was learning that not being vaccinated will prevent people from doing some things they want to do.  While mandates may be unpopular, the requirements can influence skeptics to get shots.  Saying no is being reevaluated.

Thoughts:  I developed a habit in High School of saying no whenever my mom asked me to do something.  She understood my passive aggressive nature, but also knew that if I said no, I had heard the request and I would do what she had asked.  I acted the same way with my dad . . . once.  He asked me to do something, and I said no.  His response was, “Excuse Me?”  Apparently, this was not a request, it was a mandate.  I quickly accomplished the task.  The US has tried many ways to get people to take the covid-19 vaccine (lottery tickets, college tuition, million-dollar raffles, and even staying alive).  Still the response of many has been no.  I hope for their sakes they are only being passive aggressive, and they will get the shot.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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