After the remarkable speed with which the COVID vaccine was developed, I thought we were headed back to the pre-Trump political consensus. However, it seems like that’s not going to happen and that this current generation’s troubles are far from over. The vaccine debate is such a surprisingly divisive topic. Like many observers, I believed the fact that Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed produced the vaccines” would lead to his followers lining up to get it. However, when Trump tells his supporters to get the vaccine, they boo him. That took me by surprise, considering how MSNBC and CNN portray Trump supporters as cult members; however, having met some supporters, and seeing that many do not automatically support everything he says, I know many of them are far from the deranged cultists the media portrays them to be. Obviously, he has his fervent supporters— if he didn’t, the January 6th riots would not have happened, but they are hardly the totality of the movement.
I am vaccinated and boosted with the Pfizer vaccine. Had I known some of the sordid details of what Pfizer [Editor’s Note: allegedly] has done in the past and known about their difficulties with the Justice Department, I would have probably opted to receive the Moderna vaccine. Nothing would have convinced me to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, considering how the current evidence suggests it is less effective than the mRNA vaccines and its occasional tendency to produce blood clots, which is why the CDC now recommends the mRNA vaccines over the J&J one. I was vaccinated, and tested negative for having ever had COVID. So, either I never caught the virus, I caught the virus but had no symptoms, or I caught the virus, and it was in my system, but the vaccine prevented viral entry. I did not get the vaccine because of any mandate. I did not get the vaccine for others; rather, I got the vaccine for myself. COVID can still be transmitted, but I’m not likely to die from it. This is what I think our COVID approach should have been from the start, yet some people still are worried about the vaccination status of others.
One example of this is the leftist streamer known as Destiny. I occasionally watch his content because there is some agreement between our social-political beliefs and some economic-political beliefs. However, he is still farther on the left than I am. I remember watching his discussion with three other conservatives at the Better Discourse conference. I could agree with some points about having vaccine mandates in schools— there is nuance in that. One point he brought up, which I could not understand, was a vaccine not being an individual measure. I understand that he mentioned protecting the children, teachers, and grandparents. But then he was confronted with the “if __ works, then why do you need __” argument that is often seen from people on the right when debating COVID policy. He then countered with an analogy using cars, seatbelts, and airbags. My understanding of what he was trying to say is that there are multiple things you do for the sake of public health protection–not just one thing. I did not think the airbag and the seatbelt was a good example because, if you are in a crash, then a seat and airbag (most of the time anyway) would prevent you from suffering further damage to yourself. At the same time, the other person would be unaffected by your seatbelt use. The crash in this analogy would be the outbreak, the seatbelt wearing a mask, and the airbag being the vaccine. I think the analogy supports the individual measure argument.
I shouldn’t be getting a vaccine to protect other people. If anything, I should do what DeSantis did and convince people to get the vaccine for themselves. Some people should get the vaccine who don’t— for example, many conservatives, particularly in the Bible Belt. We already know obesity is a risk factor when it comes to the mortality of COVID, which seems to make sense considering COVID can infect fatty tissue. At the same time, the Bible Belt states have high obesity rates, which may be why their states seem to be on the top when it comes to COVID death rates (that and their small population). Their population is also some of the least vaccinated in the country (Alabama is the place where Trump was booed for advocating for the vaccine).
I think the chart to the right is what some people in favor of vaccine and mask mandates will use to justify that policy— which I understand. However, the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it and is paid for by the federal government. If someone vulnerable to COVID refuses to get the vaccine when it is readily available, that’s not on anyone except that person. Going back to the discussion with Destiny, he went back to the vaccinations for school argument— as I said, I can agree there is an argument there. However, Destiny’s rationale was confusing to me. He said that children could transmit the disease to teachers and “grandma and grandpa.” That is a legitimate worry, but the part that seemed lazy (note this is all in a hypothetical) one. If he were worried about the old people in his family dying, he would worry about whether they were vaccinated against COVID rather than the child. Two: he then tried to justify this with the “society (democracy) decided it, so one has to go along with it” argument– which, while being a non sequitur, I do not have a problem with. But if the intention is to get results (in this case, lowering COVID deaths), then whether people or society decided it is irrelevant. I mean, if everyone voted to move COVID patients into nursing homes, that’s an objectively terrible idea— considering what we know about the mortality among the elderly. My point is that, while Density has valid concerns, he can’t make them without appealing to a philosophical superstructure with which I can’t entirely agree.
In general, our philosophies differ, as I lean on the “live and let live” side of the spectrum. For example, if a restaurant wants to require masks or proof of vaccination to let someone enter their restaurant, that’s their right. The opposite is true. If someone does not want to eat somewhere where masks are not required, that’s their problem, and the restaurant does not get their money. If a susceptible person goes into a restaurant where masks and vaccinations are not mandated, catches COVID, and dies, that’s not really on the restaurant owner. As I previously said, the vaccine is widely available, unlike access to other things in healthcare. My rationale for this view of the unvaccinated is based on the same reasoning I have for our healthcare treatment of people who eat junk food, get obese, and die of a heart attack. Obesity isn’t contiguous, but people need to start taking responsibility for their health, not that of other people. That’s the issue with both sides of the political spectrum. I never thought the vaccine would cause so much division in this country, but it seems to have done so.
To summarize: People who are likely to die of COVID should get the vaccine, including older people. People who are not making sure the most vulnerable are vaccinated first are just running on fear. People who refuse (but are not unable) to get the vaccine despite being susceptible and then die are fools. There might be some worries about the vaccine in children. I think the people who complain about big pharma but want to mandate the vaccine (for entrance into non-public spaces) for those who don’t need it are also running on fear or ego. I think the conspiracy theories about the vaccine magnetizing people, changing your DNA, etc., are nonsense.
With the vaccine so widely available, it’s not anyone’s fault if someone dies of Covid. So, let’s get on with our lives like we did before the world shut down.