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Unvaccinated Covid-19 Americans Under Increasing Pressure

Republicans and conservative media support vaccination 3:02

. – Social, moral and political pressure is beginning to mount on the tens of millions of Americans who refuse to receive safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19, as even some conservative politicians join the persuasion effort amid a new wave. dangerous.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s leading infectious disease expert, bluntly warned on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the pandemic “is going in the wrong direction” because the 50% of the country is not fully vaccinated.

Fauci, one of the world’s most respected public health experts, has been demonized by conservative attacks. But as the delta variant of the new coronavirus cuts through the heart of the unvaccinated country, a handful of conservative leaders are now mirroring their plea to those who resist receiving their vaccinations to save their lives.

But polls show that many Americans in conservative states remain deeply skeptical of the vaccine and many intend never to get it, or are highly unlikely to change their minds as the virus, and a highly contagious variant, its terrible price begins to rise.

President Biden’s concerns

That reality is prompting new calculations within the White House about a crisis that many of President Joe Biden’s top advisers hoped was over. Senior officials are discussing the possibility of reactivating the mask guide for vaccinated citizens in some areas where the virus is spreading particularly severely.

The prospect of another brutal fall and winter in the pandemic also threatens to detract from the president’s ambitious agenda, stalk his presidency and damage the economic recovery ahead of the already difficult midterm elections.

Fauci told “State of the Union” that the vast majority of American deaths in a worsening pandemic would come among those who have delayed getting their vaccinations.

“This is a problem predominantly among the unvaccinated, which is why we are out there practically begging the unvaccinated to go out and get vaccinated,” he told Jake Tapper.

New political divisions over the covid-19 vaccine

The vaccine campaign has once again exposed fundamental political divisions in the United States that remain stark after former President Donald Trump prioritized his political perspectives over public health guidelines last year.

Some conservative commentators and politicians have falsely accused the Biden administration of attempting to inoculate Americans against their will by force and have rejected the scientific advice of government experts.

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There are many reasons why Americans don’t get vaccinated, including the belief that the virus is not that bad, the hope that rural lifestyles will reduce the likelihood of contracting COVID-19, and widespread mistrust of government experts. But overall, the least vaccinated states that are most at risk amid the current covid-19 resurgence were won by Trump in 2020, and it’s where Republican state and local leaders have been most resistant to social distancing measures.

The former president, despite claiming legitimate credit for his administration’s role in developing highly effective vaccines, did “recommend” to his supporters in a massive rally in Arizona on Saturday that they get vaccinated. But it also showed that he was unwilling to spend political capital on an issue that could put him at odds with grassroots voters he trusts for his return.

“I also believe in their freedoms 100%,” Trump said, giving an indirect blessing to those who reject vaccines. Furthermore, he sabotaged the public health effort by stating that the reason people weren’t taking advantage of the opportunity was because of his successor. “Because they don’t trust the president, people don’t,” Trump said.

No one has sown more mistrust in the Biden administration than Trump himself with his endless false claims of voter fraud.

Controversy among Republicans

There is a risk of increasing pressure on Americans who are reluctant to get vaccinated. Millions of conservative voters turned to Trump because they believed they were falling victim to “elite” officials, experts and journalists who sought to impose their views and values ​​on what they considered their own traditional American cultural mores.

This impression, fostered by years of conservative media propaganda, could provide another source of anger for the former president to exploit if he delves into the new vaccine controversies.

As with masking, the issue of vaccines gets to the core question of American freedoms and the extent to which an individual’s interests should remain sacrosanct even if their actions put the rest of the community at risk.

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Skeptics of vaccines argue that the government should not have the power to prevent them from visiting their favorite bar or restaurant, whatever their personal choice. Yet Americans who are vaccinated wonder why those who will not receive the vaccine are unwilling to help end the pandemic for all, amid fears that high levels of the virus could generate new variants resistant to them. vaccines.

New infections and new concerns

While the public health guide suggests that the majority of vaccinated Americans are protected against COVID-19, infections are emerging. Even if almost everyone who is fully vaccinated will not become seriously ill or die. And children under the age of 12, who cannot yet be vaccinated, are vulnerable, especially at critical points of the disease, as are immunosuppressed people who cannot receive the vaccine.

The likely political price that Biden and other leaders would face in trying to introduce vaccine passports into restaurants, theaters, and other public places, means that such an idea is unlikely to apply initially in the U.S. In fact, some Republicans Like Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, where covid infections are on the rise, they have already banned such measures.

But as the potential cost of the latest covid wave becomes clear, more conservative leaders are speaking publicly in support of vaccines. Even conservative media pundits are joining in after months of spewing misinformation about the government’s vaccine effort.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the latest conservative to urge vaccines

Several Republican governors have harshly criticized people in their own states who will not go ahead and get vaccinated, including Kay Ivey of Alabama and Jim Justice of West Virginia.

Now, former Trump White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is running for governor in Arkansas, has publicly joined the provaccine camp with an op-ed in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette over the weekend. .

He noted that 98% of those hospitalized in his state and 99% of those who had recently died from covid were not vaccinated.

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“Many of our hospitals are now dangerously close to full capacity due to the increase in covid cases. And the heroic doctors and nurses who have been at the forefront of the pandemic also need the ability to treat patients with other serious illnesses and emergencies.” Sanders wrote.

But his endorsement of vaccines was preceded by a barrage of attacks on Democrats, Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Fauci and the media. Those he accused of damaging confidence in vaccines, even though the conservative media machine has been promoting disinformation for months.

It was a reminder of the political hurdles Republicans must now navigate to take a position based on the facts, the effectiveness of vaccines, while trying not to be seen as compromising on what their constituents perceive as liberal experts and journalists.

No to the mandatory vaccine

Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson outlined in the “State of the Union” the reason the state’s new COVID-19 infections are skyrocketing.

“This is a crucial moment in our race against the covid virus. School is coming. We have a lot of sporting activities that people are looking forward to and anxious about,” Hutchinson told Tapper. “And what is holding us back is a low vaccination rate,” he added.

But Hutchinson, again revealing the risky political terrain facing Republicans, defended his decision to pass a ban on state and local officials mandating face mask mandates, saying the virus was at low levels at the time. .

“People knew exactly what to do. They were capable of making their decisions,” Hutchinson said.

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The ban was approved by both houses of the Arkansas legislature in April and makes exceptions for private businesses. However, he said conservative principles allowing local control would allow officials to consider mask-wearing mandates, based on vaccination rates.

As COVID-19 cases rise across the country, Arkansas recorded 11,748 new infections and 56 new deaths in the past week. The positivity rate was 19.32%, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

While pleading with citizens to get vaccinated for their own good, Hutchinson said he would not consider mandatory vaccinations “because that would even cause a greater negative reaction towards the government and then imposition on freedom.” This reasoning is why such a move at the federal level is also almost unthinkable.

High refusal to be vaccinated

A survey, conducted Friday by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research among American adults who have not yet received a vaccine, found that 45% say they definitely will not receive the vaccines and 35% say they probably will not.

These data explain why many experts believe that calls from national political figures like Biden are likely to be ineffective in increasing vaccination rates. Trusted figures in the community, such as doctors and religious leaders, may be more successful in driving vaccine adoption. And there may also be a more direct role for business and educational organizations.

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“If someone doesn’t want to get vaccinated, I have no desire to hold them down and force them to get vaccinated. But you have to make sure they don’t harm others,” said Lawrence Gostin, professor of Global Health Law at Georgetown University.

“Either they get the injection or they have to get two tests a week, they have to mask themselves. But we have to make absolutely sure that if they make the decision not to get vaccinated, they just don’t have the right to expose themselves without being vaccinated in a crowded workplace,” he said. Gostin on CNN’s “Smerconish” on Saturday.

“We need vaccination to be the default option, the easy option,” he added.

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