Friday, May 7, 2021
May 7, 2021

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In Our View: More need vaccine before return to normalcy

The Columbian
Published:

The rollout of coronavirus vaccines in Clark County and throughout the country has been an impressive success story. But much work remains in order for life to return to some sense of pre-pandemic normal.

In order for businesses to fully reopen and for social interactions to be safe, more people need to be vaccinated. And public opinion polls indicate there is some reluctance about receiving the vaccine.

Most recently, a Monmouth University poll released last week found that 21 percent of all U.S. adults “claim they will never get the vaccine if they can avoid it.” That number is relatively unchanged from previous months.

Pollsters found that age is a factor; adults under 65 are less likely to say they want the vaccine. Pollsters also found that 43 percent of Republicans are opposed to receiving the vaccine, compared with 5 percent of Democrats.

That data is confirmed by an Associated Press analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control. The six states with the highest percentage of residents having received at least one shot were states won by President Biden in the 2020 election; of the 13 states with the lowest percentage of vaccinations, 12 voted for Donald Trump.

“It’s very disturbing that on the basis of political persuasion, people are not willing to get vaccinated,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, said. “I find that really extraordinary because those are the ones that keep saying you’re encroaching on our liberties by asking us to wear masks and to do the kinds of restrictions that are public health issues. The easiest way to get out of that is to get vaccinated. It’s almost paradoxical.”

Of course, factors other than political persuasion can influence a person’s attitude toward vaccines. Trump himself was vaccinated in January, and he has encouraged his supporters to receive a vaccine, saying it is “great” and “safe.” One pollster found that Republicans are more open to being vaccinated when reminded that all available vaccines were created while Trump was in office.

But the most important factor in getting more people vaccinated is likely to be reliable medical information. That means speaking with health care professionals and seeking data from health organizations rather than believing what somebody posts on Facebook.

Use of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been paused after a handful of recipients developed blood clots. Despite that setback and concerns about that particular vaccine, the development should reinforce confidence in the system. U.S. health officials are constantly watching for problems with the vaccines and are ready to act quickly if necessary to protect the public.

Johns Hopkins University provides details about safety measures for vaccines, including the phases of testing before a vaccine can be released to the public. The Mayo Clinic writes: “The safety of these vaccines has been studied extensively. They’ve been tested now in about 75,000 patients in total, and the incidence of adverse effects is very, very low.” The CDC reports: “The United States currently has the safest vaccine supply in its history.”

Not everybody will be convinced, and reasons for declining the vaccine can vary. But the hope is that those reasons have some factual basis rather beyond misinformation from the internet.

The United States is administering about 3.2 million vaccine doses a day, and more than half of American adults have received at least one shot. In Clark County 104,000 residents had been fully vaccinated as of last week.

That is a good start, but work remains.

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