The Second Act of the Vaccine Resistance

Sep 10, 2021 · 179 comments
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
We have had well over 650,000 Covid deaths in America; of the millions and millions of people who have had the disease, most have recovered, some are sick now, some will die, some will have long covid or other resulting long term issues; tens of millions of people have been vaccinated with vanishingly few problems and excellent effectiveness. Yet tens and tens of millions of our fellow citizens refuse to be vaccinated for no real, verifiable reason other than, basically, superstition and baseless suspicions. They willingly, sometimes proudly, sometimes arrogantly risk getting sick and, worse, spreading infection and encouraging further viral mutations. So, which is the worse pandemic: Covid-19 or stupidity? Hint: covid can be prevented but there is no known inoculation nor treatment for stupidity.
Sam Himmelstein (Brooklyn)
I have become a vaccine authoritarian. Politically I am a left/Sanders Democrat who is generally supportive of civil rights and civil liberties. But there are no more fundamental rights than the right to live and the right to not get sick if it can be prevented. In my opinion the measures recently announced by the federal and NYC governments don't go far enough. Proof of vaccination should be required to ride mass transit, enter any public building or theater, office building, or store. We should begin suspending drivers licenses and professional licenses, Medicare and other benefits if people refuse to vaccinate. Vaccination should be a condition of obtaining and continuing to receive medical insurance. Escalating fines tied to income should be imposed. And if all that doesn't work how about martial law and we go door to door and vaccinate? 600,000 have died in the USA. What does it take for us to wake up?
gking01 (Jackson Heights)
@Sam Himmelstein The maintenance guys in my coop in Queens belong to a union, so the coop membership has to walk on egg shells to attempt to mandate their vaccines. Even to mandate, minus a vaccine, that they submit to weekly Covid tests and that the results of those tests be posted in clear view of the coop membership. As I write this, neither the board nor the management company has any information on the vaccination status of our maintenance guys. Who is actually running the show at my coop?
Trekkie (Madison WI)
@Sam Himmelstein Moreover, legitimate COVID-19 vaccine passports should be required as voter ID. If you are not fully vaccinated you cannot vote!
Hobby (Here)
Whoa. Martial law? I’m all for banning unvaccinated folks from public places, but if they want to molt in their homes that’s fine with me.
It is generally thought that the vaccine hesitant are a monolithic group of uneducated right wing idiots. This study actually took the time to dig down into the nuance of this important story and found that PHD holders were THE MOST HESITANT of all. The paper is made more comprehensible by this article: It appears smart people are reluctant to take the vaccine? Why???? Perhaps they don't feel comfortable with the fact that the mass roll out of this vaccine program is basically the 4th phase of a Clinical Trial which usually lasts about 2 yrs and is designed to understand and observe the long term effects. Never has a vaccine been used in millions and millions of people without long term safety data. Everyone who has taken the vaccine is a participant in this final phase, and most aren't aware of this abnormality. Having recovered from COVID, I prefer to remain in the control group for now.
All school students 12 and older should be required to get the vaccine to attend school. All passengers should be required to get the vaccine to travel on a airplane. The path forward is obvious and the only exemptions to these requirements should be allergic reactions to the vaccine. Public health policy is about getting most of the population to take the necessary steps to slow (or stop) the spread of disease. Enough time has been used trying to convince people to get the vaccine. Require the unvaccinated population to get vaccinated or to functionally withdraw from society.
@JP Most people don't realize the path forward is not agreed upon by all experts given that variants are causing more and more breakthrough infections. The natural immunity acquired from a COVID 19 infection has been shown to be at least as protective if not more than vaccination. Other countries recognize this and give "Digital Covid Certificates" which log three things: the holder's vaccination record, negative tests, or a record of previous infection. Many experts believe a wiser path is to vaccinate as many vulnerable people all over the world before "wasting" vaccines on those who don't need it.
B Fuller (Chicago)
You point out that the Cleveland Clinic study was not peer reviewed, but was the study the CDC cited (the one stating that people who had COVID but not the vaccine are 2x as likely to be reinfected) peer reviewed? I’m not sure, and would appreciate clarity. When I looked at that second article it says it was posted as an “early release” which makes me suspect it also hasn’t been peer reviewed yet. I’m not agreeing with the doctor in this article - I believe everyone, including people who have had COVID, should be vaccinated, because I think based on the information we have, it’s the less risky choice. But specifying that one article is not peer reviewed and not giving that information on the other seems potentially dangerous. On a new subject like this, many articles are not yet peer reviewed. They’re still the best source of information we have. I’m glad we made choices with small risks and large potential gains (wearing masks, for instance) before the studies were completely peer reviewed. It is more confusing when studies contradict each other. But a lack of transparency only hurts us.
@B Fuller I'd like to point out that the CDC study you cite was a study comparing the previously infected but unvaccinated with the previously infected but vaccinated. So the conclusion should be that vaccination reduces chance of reinfection in the previously infected. The headlines have distorted this so that it sounds like being vaccinated makes you less likely to be reinfected, which is refuted by every large study on the matter. At least 15 studies have shown natural immunity alone is superior to vaccination without previous infection. This is because the body recognizes and mounts an immune response to many more components of the actual virus than vaccinated immunity which is specific to a specific spike variants arise involving mutations of the spike protein, and the specific vaccines no longer recognizes them, all indication is that natural immunity will show itself to be superior still.
Martin (Chicago)
In IL there are scenes of anti-vaxxers protesting at elementary schools, and shouting into faces of children "hitler youth". How can any protestor, doing this to a child be reasoned with? They will not be vaccinated, and if they won't be vaccinated their should be consequences. How about some Texas style lawsuits, to protect the child from this abuse. It is all about the children - right? Never mind. These children were already born, so they have no expectation of being shown the dignity and respect they deserve to be afforded by these adults, many of whom are "religious".
PS (Vancouver)
What don't these folks get - many, if not most, have already been vaccinated against a host of diseases; they are just as likely and willing to take all sorts Big Pharma medications (with all sorts of side effects); they will readily submit to all sorts of medical interventions if suddenly diagnosed with cancer; and, more weirdly, readily inject bleach or invertcim (sp), yet are ready to take up arms against a proven and effective treatment against a deadly illness that has knocked the global community to its knees. I am at a complete loss - how does one reason with these folks?
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
The fight should not be with people who survived the disease and have some natural immunity, even if vaccine would strengthen it. Concentrate efforts on the unvaccinated who have no immunity at all.
B Fuller (Chicago)
@Jonathan Katz, I would agree, but with one caveat: People who have had COVID need to provide evidence of a past positive COVID test to be exempt for vaccine mandates. I know COVID tests were impossible for many to get early on, and I know many people had COVID but had no test. But just about everyone I know who had a cold in January of 2020 insists it was COVID. I wouldn’t want to base vaccine policy on that.
Kristina (Colorado)
@B Fuller They've had an antibody test for Covid since May 2020. Most major labs provide them on request (no doctor's order required) and most insurance pays for it. Makes it easy for any unvaccinated folks to see if they've ever had Covid and if so, the levels of antibodies in their system. If it comes down to testing folks, I imagine this would be the test they'd use. Not everyone who's had Covid has a high enough level of antibodies to prevent severe illness again, so I would think they'd need to establish a baseline "This is as good or better than the vaccine" number before jumping on this. Doesn't matter though. Even then, we'll just have contrarians saying "You can't make me take a blood test! Ma freedoms!"
luxembourg (Santa Barbara)
So a study suggests that previous victims of covid are twice as likely to become infected as those that received both doses of the vaccine. That is possibly true. I would ask a few questions though. - Has the study been peer reviewed? - Has the data been time adjusted? That is to say, has the average length of time from infection or vaccination to second been the same in both cases? After all, there are suggestions that the vaccine efficacy declines with age. - How dies the rate of hospitalizations compare? I am not against all getting vaccinated, but the science seems to be lacking at times.
Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Police Squad)
I wasn't alive when the polio vaccine was developed, but it feels like a reasonably good analogue to COVID in terms of how communicable and challenging it was to families that encountered it. Though I'm disgusted by the level and consequences of people pushing back on vaccines for COVID, it's not a new phenomenon. Can anyone comment on how vaccine refusal was to polio? What worked to get people more on board?
chris (louisiana)
@Lieutenant Frank Drebin Important differences in the two viruses include the route of transmission (fecal oral for polio, airborne Covid), also polio mainly a disease of children, Covid generally worse the older and weaker you are. But like Covid, nearly all cases asymptomatic. Polio vaccines were developed over a few years, pretty quick for those days, no high tech genetic engineering. First widespread one (Salk) was "killed virus" injectate. And there were big mistakes, including batches of vaccines made up of viruses that weren't actually killed. With predictable results.
B Fuller (Chicago)
@Lieutenant Frank Drebin, there was no comparable pushback to polio. But vaccine hesitancy is not new: There was a significant pushback to smallpox. I suspect the difference is based on how much society trusts authority and medical science at each time. Distrusting medical science when smallpox immunizations were first rolled out had more basis in reality than now though: There was no required rigorous proof of safety of vaccines (or any medical treatment) then the way there is now. At the same time as smallpox immunizations were being encouraged, doctors were still bloodletting patients with basic diseases. Another NYTimes article claimed that one reason polio vaccines were more trusted is that it was created by a trusted organization, the precursor to the March of Dimes. Often distrust of pharmaceutical companies taints the vaccines they make, which wasn’t relevant with polio. I also think it helped that pretty much everyone knew a child crippled with polio before the vaccine became available. In the US, the effect of COVID has been very regional. People in some areas suffered greatly before the vaccine was available, but in others, people were being told to take a vaccine before they knew anyone hospitalized.
Deirdre (New Jersey)
I got my booster yesterday. It was so easy to schedule at CVS They were so professional Got my flu vaccine too One in each arm I still wear a mask when I go into a store And mostly eat outside of restaurants No one in my household has gotten covid We are all fortunate and grateful and healthy.
RAC (Bronx)
Covid vaccines victims of their own success. Maybe if the vaccines had taken 3 or 4 years of misery to develop, resulting in tens of millions more dead globally, then their would be endless lines for them. Maybe vaccines would seem more convincing if there were a virus that killed 10% of the population and disabled another 10-20%. Maybe a more thorough dystopian breakdown in society would make vaccines more convincing. Then again, maybe not.
chris (louisiana)
In an alternate Universe, instead of sulking about getting crushed in the election, former President Trump implored his supporters to get the vaccine. Covid-19 numbers in the US plummeted to the point where it is sending vaccines to global hotspots. In that Universe, their Donald is being considered for the Nobel Prizes in Peace and in Medicine. Sadly, in our Universe, we don't have that Donald.
Jacquie (Iowa)
It's time for strictly enforce vaccine mandates before the religious right and others decide that they will NOT get their children vaccinated for any childhood diseases going forward and they will continue to spread COVID and any other diseases that pop up to the rest of the vaccinated populous.
Mel (Dallas)
Free vaccine for the willing. Free bodybags for the others.
Henry Seggerman (New York City)
Thankfully, Darwin will prove to be right. As pandemics will be with us for a while, anti-vaxxers will just self-extinct after a generation or two.
Sans Pantalons (39 North 86 West)
I am sure we can find cases of those who were infected in 2020, that have been re-infected in 2021 with the Delta variant, so the idea of natural immunity probably does not hold much value. I am sure we can find a few cases of adverse reaction to the with any treatment with 300 million different DNA's walking around the country. With over 200 million doses and practically zero signs of any adverse health effects, no signs of the vaccinated growing horns or having their skin fall off, and undeniable immunity with the shots, what is the fear? Religious resistance? Take a religiously contrived belief and treat it as science? Show me the source. At this late stage, the clear need for a vaccine against stupidity is there. I for one don't care anymore, just like I don't care about measles or small pox. Choice has been made, make sure your health insurance and your estate plan is in order. We can't fix you.
Shulaka (Waban, MA)
Enough is enough! Take the vaccines and send them to a country that wants them. The anti-vaxxers should have to sign a pledge not to endanger medical personnel if they should actually get sick. Hospitals should have the right to withhold care from any adult who just didn’t get around to being vaccinated. Employers of any number, not just 100-or-more should be protecting all of their employees by insisting on vaccines. Stop coddling the anti-vaxxers, and stop giving them say. They’ve lost my respect, and deserve their Darwin awards for covidiocy.
Deirdre (New Jersey)
I have no more patience for the unvaccinated. If you work with people in place with a roof- you need to get the jab. Republican made this political and because of that - I will never vote for one again- this is just nuts - in a few weeks more people will have died in Florida than died during the entire Vietnam war.
gpickard (Luxembourg)
I do not like government mandates, but sometimes there is no better choice. After 9/11, my freedom to travel was considerably impinged upon. To this day we all must go through security checks, take off our shoes, get shaken down from time to time, take out the computer and stand on lines. I don't enjoy traveling anymore because of it, but I also do not want some idiot crashing a jet into a skyscraper. So though I miss my old freedoms to travel, I am willing to accept the necessity of security procedures. The same is true for this vaccine. Yes a mandate from the government would be intrusive, but illness and death are also very intrusive. What is even more intrusive is COVID patients taking up space in the hospital and displacing people who need hospital care for diseases and ailments for which there are no vaccines.
John Bike (Florida)
The vaccine mandate should have covered all recipients of Federal money: unemployment insurance, welfare, food stamps, tuition loan waivers, tuition loans, Obama Care subsidies, undocumented aliens attempting to cross into the US, etc.
Stephen (New Haven)
Perhaps people would not be so upset if the cdc acknowledged the fact that previous infection offers protection similar to vaccination after all the vaccine is intended To mimic immunity from an infection.
jb (nyc)
@Stephen please read the story---prior covid illness and recovery is only 50% effective as full vaccination in preventing re-infection.
Sam (Brooklyn)
@Stephen For the life of me I can't understand why they don't just do this. Can it just be laziness on their part (i.e. not having to bother with establishing appropriate protocols for people with confirmed natural immunity)? I think a lot of previously infected vaccine hesitant people would be more willing to get a shot if the CDC was honest about the science.
Wesley (Fishkill)
@Stephen Did you read the article? The vaccine is TWICE as good as natural immunity. That is not "similar" - it is substantially better.
Walter C. Derrick (West Columbia, SC)
At least some of the resistance to Covid vaccines is based on moral or religious objections to using a product of research based on embryonic or fetal-derived cell lines. It might be a useful contribution for someone who is knowledgeable to provide a succinct account of the particulars. The supposed culpability might be limited only to some vaccines, and might also be of a different character than is sometimes imagined. Clinical innovations are guided by insights from basic research, which has many, diverse sources acquired over many years. It may not be possible to demonstrate an unambiguous dependence or independence of a particular vaccine on a particular experimental procedure. Science cannot determine moral choices, but it can inform them.
Philip Gill (San Diego)
@Walter C. Derrick Interesting. I have never heard that dodge about taking COVID vaccines. That’s a new one. And I’ve been reading extensively about all the excuses given.
tom harrison (seattle)
@Walter C. Derrick - But these same people would not turn down monoclonal antibodies which were also tested on fetal cells and are experimental. It just shows how lacking in logical thought we are as a society. And if one is truly against any and all experimental drugs then what on earth is the argument against wearing a N95 mask at the grocery store and keeping a safe distance????? Republicans are confusing the words freedom and anarchy. Even Texas has laws against drunk driving and child abuse.
F LeSanti (New York)
Re: The Cleveland Clinic study (a preprint, not peer reviewed), which followed the Clinic’s caregivers over 5 months. Cleveland Clinic issued a news release on June 9th, stating in part: “In June, we shared research that provided insight into how the immune system protects the body after a confirmed COVID-19 infection …. It’s important to note that this study was conducted in late 2020 and early 2021, before the emergence of the Delta variant. More research is needed. We do not know how long the immune system will protect itself against re-infection after COVID-19, as our study only looked at individuals over a five-month period, or how well-protected previously infected individuals are against variants. It is also important to keep in mind that this study was conducted in a population that was younger and healthier than the general population. It is safe to receive the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have previously tested positive, and we recommend all those who are eligible receive it.”
Philip Gill (San Diego)
@F LeSanti You make a good and valid point. But the COVID and anti-vaxxers ignore the report in its entirety and cherry pick what support their particular form of covid denialism.
Freddix (New York, NY)
No mention of the idea that, as a society, we should all take this very small acknowledged risk together, to protect one another? (and thus protect ourselves individually, if a selfish angle must be included) Why is this so rarely mentioned? It’s why I got the vaccine despite a few small misgivings.
Alton (The Bronx)
At this point in the pandemic it is time to stop caring about these mostly delusional people because they have stopped listening and they certainly do not care about others. Time to stop prodding them. Let them come to the horrid realization themselves if ever they do... on or off the hospital bed. We can't prevent them from infecting others without the mandate.
NYC Taxpayer (East Shore, S.I.)
Can someone explain to me how deBlasio's vccine mandate makes any sense. It punishes businesses for their customer's choice not to get vaccinated. I'm fully vaxxed but don't want to show my vax card and driver's license photo id to strangers. Arguments will ensue between proprietors and customers. BTW a judge ruled in favor of deBlasio but agreed with many of the opponents arguments. What??? '“An executive order represents the prerogative of a single individual, and therefore should be limited in scope and duration — even in the context of an emergency,” wrote Colon. “An official record justifying the government’s fiat does not exist. Public testimony from public health-care practitioners supporting these steps does not exist. The people’s representatives are not on record questioning the decisions, conclusions and guidance of health-care scholars and practitioners.'
Philip Gill (San Diego)
@NYC Taxpayer It actually doesn’t do as you contend, but you’re whataboutism at least is somewhat original.
tom harrison (seattle)
@NYC Taxpayer - Both you and I get asked to show a driver's license or state i.d. on a regular basis. I have to show it everywhere from the cannabis store (to prove that I am over 21) to the Goodwill (to prove that I qualify for the senior's discount). Book a flight overseas and a stranger wants to see that vaccine card. You always have the option of staying home and letting Bezos bring the world to you...except a dry martini and some GG#4.
B Fuller (Chicago)
@NYC Taxpayer, I’m genuinely curious - why don’t you want to show your vaccine card? All mine says is my birthday and where I got the shot. I divulge similar information every time I’m carded when I walk into a bar. Certainly you risk much more every time you hand a credit card to a waiter or clerk? But I trust they will use the information appropriately. Why wouldn’t I trust those same people with a vaccine card?
Jack be Quick (Albany)
Your choice may be not to be vaccinated; our choice is if you get sick with COVID-19 you won't be treated for the disease. Seems a fair trade off to me.
S In North Carolina (North Carolina)
@Jack be Quick Physician here. We have to treat them. That’s how it works.
JP (Hua Hin)
Quite a bit of the anti-vax resistance is republican virtue signalling, nothing more. The obstinance was aleady there, they're always just looking for a place or cause to use it. If it upsets "the libs" then so much the better.
Reser (US)
The following is a poorly written sentence that erroneously indicates that refusing to write a medical exception letter for a patient could cost a health care professional his license to practice: “. Others have asked him to write letters providing a medical exemption that would allow them skip the shot. Dr. Funaro refused, he told me, something that could result in the termination of a medical license.” What the reported probably meant was that writing a false statement granting a potent a medical exemption when none is medically necessary could cost one one’s license.
Bob R (Portland, ME)
@Reser Thanks for writing this. I had hoped that what was meant was your last paragraph, but what was written made it sound like what your first paragraph says.
Barbara (Queens)
About the nay-sayers: Look, guys, I have a close associate, about my age (74), who's an anti-vaxxer despite having grown up, as i did, in that time where we both knew people - kids and adults - afflicted with and crippled for life by polio. In my case, growing up the US, i was a 'polio pioneer.' I'd have to check with them to be sure how the early vaccinations rolled out abroad. The reason this person is an anti-vaxxer (or at least the case they always use to illustrate the perils of vaccines is that a - ONE - 1 - friend of theirs, about our age, got and still has polio after getting vaxxed. ( I have no idea if this is how / when it happened but apparently that's what he says.) This one (1) friend is not hopelessly crippled but has some mild or moderate physical limitations. My point is that there is just sometimes no reasoning with persons who have firmly made up their minds (about whatever). My recommendation - spare yourself the agita, just nod, and mumble mmmhmmm, and change the subject.
Terre (San Luis Obispo)
@Barbara My neighbor died from covid a few months ago. Total trump guy who didn't believe in covid, wouldn't wear a mask, died for that. That's how lost in their bubbles these people are.
Bob R (Portland, ME)
@Terre Right until his last breath he probably didn't believe he had Covid and that it was killing him. I've heard about that kind of situation several times.
Paul (Brooklyn)
You will always have these "rebels" who will put liberty over health. They had the anti mask brigade in the Spanish Flu circa 1919. Enact any restrictions that are constitutional and if some people don't want to follow them put restrictions on them. One cannot force somebody to get a covid shot but if they don't they should wear a mask and if not, work from home or put on limited leave etc. People have liberties but not at the price of putting somebody's else's health at grave danger. App. 600k people died from covid last yr., not a rare tropical disease that kills a few people a year.
Hobby (Here)
Call it “Trump’s vaccine” in select locations and see the vaccinated numbers increase.
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
@Hobby Good idea: one line for people wanting Trump's vaccine (his administration paid for its development), and another line for people wanting Biden's vaccine (his administration issued the mandate). Choose your line. Same vaccine at the end of it.
Dana (NYC)
While I am very pro vaccine, I am anti-vaccine MANDATE. (Yes I am vaccinated & so is my 15 yo. I voted for H.C. & J.B.) The truth is no one is following the science, not those on the left or the right. I personally stopped reading the covid & vaccine coverage on NYT because it is just as bias as Fox News and I now read WSJ which is still very much in favor of vaccines but reports the news with the least amount of bias I have been able to find. For instance they published a story citing 3 studies out of the UK which looked at 462K children that got Covid with 25 of the children dying. The science here shows what we were told all along (prior to the vaccine being available to children so NYT stopped saying this & replaced it with non-fact based fear mongering stories about children/Covid) that children are a lot less susceptible to Covid than adults. In the UK only kids 12-15 with medical conditions or those that live with an immunocompromised person are eligible. That is following the science. The truth is the anti-vaxxers are being irrational and so are the vaxxers. We have no idea if at year two 10% of those vaccinated will develop a rare condition related to the vaccine. Normally this is something we know before a vaccine or medication is FDA approved and to pretend that the possibility doesn't exist, esp bc mRNA has never been widely used, makes the vaxxers as dumb as the anti-vaxxers. We need to have honest, rational conversations that look at the science without bias.
RAC (Bronx)
@Dana "We have no idea if at year two 10% of those vaccinated will develop a rare condition related to the vaccine." And the contrary point can be made that we equally have no idea what will happen to those who have had covid and survived. We do know, however, that some viruses, like chicken pox, lurk in the body and may cause an illness--shingles--some time in the future.
Frozen Over (CO)
@Dana While what you say is true it leaves out a big piece. If a child gets infected with Delta they are likley to spread it to 5-9 people. These people may not have the same risk profile as the child. The vaccines are as much about others as they are for the individual.
B.Smith (Oreland, PA)
If a person is not vaccinated why should they be allowed to take a hospital bed and other resources away from a stroke patient or some other patient that has been vaccinated? Send them home to their Trump recommended cures.
MJ Harding (California)
I remember the starving kids in China argument that my mother used to get me to eat my greens, but there are literally people dying in Africa because they have no access to vaccines and meanwhile there's stubborn Johnny at the table with his arms crossed.
Simulacres (USA)
I'm back to wearing a mask full time indoors, except in my home. I do not allow workers in my home without a mask. I don't trust anyone, in my opinion the US has gone nuts. This pandemic will never end.
TGregory (near Montpelier, Vermont)
This hilarious piece of non-journalism wins the prize for deceitful propaganda. You write a story about thousands of medical professionals resisting mandates and you forget to interview single spokesperson for their cause? LOL. And to think, these front-line nurses and medical technicians, who were heros only a few months ago, must have witnessed how 'safe' and 'effective' the injection really is.
It’s called corpojournalism.
John Goudge (Peotone IL)
Its amazing how stupid we have become. We have forgotten about the dangers of diseases that have largely vanished -- small pox, polio, measles diphtheria even mumps. We have forgotten those on crutches or locked in iron lungs due to polio. Now we value our freedom over the welfare of others, children, the old, the immune compromised. We are afraid of any possible side effects -- Oh! I might run a fever for a day -- horrors. Our ancestors were smarter. British upper class types vaccinated themselves and their children with an early form of small pox vaccine that killed about 3% of those vaccinated. Likewise, Washington's troops insisted that they get the same vaccination, knowing the risk. My grandfather endured quarantine every time his ship came into port, remaining at anchor until his ship got clearance from the port surgeon. All to avoid importing disease and plague. When my parents attended a family dinner and one sister was diagnosed with tuberculosis, they, the entire family and the sister's coworkers all found themselves confined to the tuberculosis sanitarium until their tests came back negative. Back then, disease was real and all too present. Our ancestors were willing to accept some lose of liberty for the health of Society. Now, too many are to important to care about others.
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
@John Goudge Variolation, not vaccination. The death rate eventually got below 0.1%. Washington ordered the variolation of his army; it wasn't popular demand. Aside from the death toll, illness could disable an army; better to variolate in winter quarters, and be immune in time for the fighting season.
Daphne (Petaluma, CA)
This is the legacy of Donald Trump. He started the resistance movement with "It's just the flu" and "Like magic, it will just go away", even as the death numbers grew, and morgues appeared outside hospitals. He set an example of taking strange medicines and verbally questioning a possible cure of ingesting bleach or a magic light. Don't forget who started the resistance. Even non-Trump supporters were vulnerable to the propaganda from a presidential bully pulpit and the daily tweeting. We are divided because he divided us, and his legacy lives on.
Louise (USA)
I call myself a "hostage" now, because what else are we who vaccinated, continue to mask and socially distance and now of course, after 1 1/2 yrs. have PTSD...
@Louise Enough with victim mentality. Vaccinated can spread too. Didn’t you hear?
AnObserver (UpstateNY)
This has less to do with real reluctance to be vaccinated and more to do with the utter lack of consistent and unified messaging about vaccines. When vaccines for polio came out virtually no one opposed them. There was also full throated support and advocacy across the political and media spectrum. Not today though, not with COVID. Today, with COVID, we have the exact opposite. We have teams, each advocating for THEIR positions. Whether political, pseudo-science philosophical or just the contagion of social media there is no unified message and too many people are trapped in their individual information bubbles. Even now, over a thousand people are dying every single day. We are on the cusp of entering flu season too. Fall and winter with Delta and potentially an even worse variant may be the worse period yet. Just think, by Christmas we may have a new record; we might well break 1,000,000 Covid deaths in this country. Now that's something to be "proud" of.
Paul (California)
The NYT has been pushing the narrative that only Republicans were refusing the vaccine. That has never been true. The healthcare workers union in CA threatened a lawsuit when Gavin Newsom mentioned a vaccine mandate for them. He backed down. Government healthcare workers are probably one of the most reliably Democratic groups in the country. I appreciate that this article addresses the nuances of vaccine refusers. Painting this as a partisan issue only foments more political polarization. I have numerous "anti-vax" friends and every single one is a die-hard liberal.
Terre (San Luis Obispo)
@Paul I have numerous die-hard liberal friends, and only one of them (an old hippie and reflexologist) has opted to take ivermectin. She's out and about quite a lot and I can only hope that she won't catch the virus and infect others.
Jonathan Katz (St. Louis)
@Paul Anti-vaccination feeling is widespread among the "natural" food crowd, the spiritualist anti-technology crowd, etc., most of whom are on the left of the political spectrum. Typically, they object to all vaccines, and have been responsible for measles outbreaks.
George (Los Angeles, CA)
It's sad reading these comments, to really comprehend the degree of ignorance displayed by those who are so sure about what others should do to protect themselves and their loved ones. Any vaccine mandate that does not allow an exception for a confirmed prior infection is addressing something other than public health. We have loads of data now clearly demonstrating that prior infection is either approximately similar to if not better than vaccination at preventing COVID infection, transmission and severe disease. But that's the least of it. Data is also emerging that for otherwise healthy young men and boys, their personal risk of severe effects from the vaccine are greater than their risk of severe effects from a COVID infection, and vaccination does not entirely eliminate their risk of being infected and transmitting the virus. So what's the public health case for including this group in a mandate? If you're going to wag your fingers at the unvaccinated for creating public health risks, you can't then ignore public health data showing that for some groups and individuals, the public health case for vaccinations is weak at best. And this discussion is likely to become far more intense in a couple of months, if the vaccines are approved for children, who have very little personal risk of severe disease from COVID, but if the current trend of vaccine-related risks being elevated in the young and healthy holds, may have high risks from the vaccine.
Phrynne Childs (Cheyenne WY)
@George “If you have had COVID-19 before, please still get vaccinated,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “This study shows you are twice as likely to get infected again if you are unvaccinated. Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others around you, especially as the more contagious Delta variant spreads around the country.” I guess everyone has to pick and choose what they want to hear.
Sue (Las Vegas)
@George The personal risk for some people may be lower when they take Road A vs. Road B, but the overall societal/public health risk is still higher with them taking Road B vs. Road A. So they have a very small risk of a known and treatable cardiac malfunction, and a smaller risk of hospitalization. But that then willfully ignores the risk to others whom they infect, and the debilitation of long Covid (and the short-term effects of lost schooling/wages) of the actual infection. "Mild case" is used to describe anything that doesn't end in hospital or death, even if it means 2 to 4 weeks abed with a fever, and prolonged inability to function due to fatigue and brain fog. What is the rate of hospitalization with the vaccine side effects vs. with Covid? I think the odds there still favor the vaccine. So you can take into account those data and still wag fingers at the unvaccinated. Because it never was about protecting one person; it's about protecting society as a whole.
Terre (San Luis Obispo)
@George I'm in the high-risk category because of autoimmune disease. I've had three Pfizer shots, including a booster three weeks ago, despite the fact that studies into vaccines given to people with such conditions have still not been done. You are totally ignoring the risk unvaccinated people cause everyone else.
Javaforce (CA)
I think a large percentage of the anti-vaxxers are being maninulated by people who want to see America fail. There’s not a single Republican in Congress calling this betrayal of our country out. People have become so deranged that all that matters is that Biden fails no matter what. If Americans die and Democracy is lost that doesn’t matter.
Thea (NYC)
Congratulations to us! We have achieved group immaturity.
poslug (cambridge)
My local supermarket has unvaccinated front line workers who also are not wearing masks. Insane. Hopefully the more than 100 workers will kick in. Locally we call is Shop and Die.
Alish (Las Vegas)
The same anti-vaxxer crowd would be (should be) embarrassed to know that their own parents and grandparents complied with vaccine mandates decades ago so that they could live in a country that cares about public health. Grow up!
Alton (The Bronx)
Unbeknownst to them, the vaccine refusniks may be responsible for eliminating many of those at one end of the normal distribution of humanity, themselves. But they are also endangering all others, even their own loved ones. Expect the average intelligence quotient to shift upwards and , perhaps, lead to a saner, more rational citizenry.
Le (Ny)
I favor proof of vaccine to ride subways, busses, take taxis, get on airplanes, enter hotels, schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, grocery stores, or to get health insurance or receive any kind of federal or state benefit. I also favor taxing the unvaccinated.
ejg (NYC)
@Le I thought about this as Biden made his speach and whole-heartedly agree that individuals who receive ANY Federal aid should show proof of vaccination. Thank you
Paul '52 (New York, NY)
I will lay 100:1 odds that these people were vaccinated as kids in conformity with VACCINE MANDATES. I will also lay 100:1 odds that their kids were as well. Their problem is the guy asking them to get vaccinated now.
Alton (The Bronx)
@Paul '52 They have been molded into contrarians by the conservative media. Once crystallized, it is hard for them to shake loose. Perhaps they will awaken when they find that they are eliminating themselves from the argument. Meanwhile they are endangering others, all others.
Emily (Fresno)
@Paul '52 And their problem with him comes from "the former guy".
Terre (San Luis Obispo)
@Alton "They have been molded into contrarians by the conservative media. Once crystallized, it is hard for them to shake loose." Such a good description!
HLR (California)
It is about trust, not science. People who distrust government are less likely to accept vaccination. They will listen to whom they trust. Maybe an anti-vaxxer. Maybe an ambivilant doctor. Maybe a pastor or radio evangelist who asks them to rely on God. In God they trust.
MJ Harding (California)
@HLR The irony is that most of these people have received vaccinations in the past (MMR, for instance), but suddenly this one matters.
Oh please (minneapolis, mn)
@HLR If they want to trust in God, they can stay home and trust that he will heal them when they get sick instead of taking up hospital resources.
Requiring proof of vaccine in order to keep receiving government benefits would help boost numbers in certain demographics.
Portland Dan (Yosemite, CA)
"The vaccine was coming,” she said on the phone, “and this was all going to be over, remember?” Everyone was going to pitch in, work together, and crush the trumpvirus, remember? Then the antivaxx insanity took hold. Time's up: no more coddling the antivaxxers. No vaccine, no healthcare. No mask/vaccine, no admission to events, transportation, education, dining, nothing. Keep away from us. Because Our Healthcare personnel don't need to keep telling they dying unvaccinated that it's too late. The healthcare triage is here, and if you want to suicide, it's not our job to clean up.
Le (Ny)
Woe is me. Really. I'm terrified at this outcome. I find it emotionally and intellectually incomprehensible, despite all the efforts to explain "vaccine hesitancy" to me. Refusniks just seem to be to be mulish, or rather, toddlers in a tantrum without a sense of duty and responsibility. Or, maybe my sister is right and they are just stupid. The situation is apocalyptic, and still people say no? Incomprehensible. Makes me rethink all my lifelong ideas about democracy, citizenship, and civil society. Wish Biden had acted earlier, but I'm with him on mandates.
Rachel (Albany NY)
@Le I'm with your sister. And I've held this opinion since at least when W was re-elected.
Betti (New York)
@Le Biden was waiting for FDA approval. And I agree with your sister - these people are just plain stupid. As my father used to say, "no dear, not everyone is created equal".
Grey (Charleston SC)
Thank you, President Biden. It’s about time. All the phony excuses and lies about the vaccine are just code words for “We are following our leaders, Trump and his wannabe successors who taught us to poke the libs.”
Edward (Phila., PA)
You have to wonder how bad its going to get. So unnecessary. So tragic. So truly incomprehensible.
GV (Alaska)
You know what they call a graduate of medical school who was last in his class - "Doctor"
Moderate (New york)
@GV It is mot doctors but health care workers who are the anti-vacers. Look at the data.
MJ Harding (California)
@GV Ever go to medical school? Passing at the top or at the bottom doesn't matter because it is all rigorous all the way down, which makes your point (off-topic as it is) moot.
Betty (Massachusetts)
@GV Please share your own credentials with us.
Son Of Liberty (nyc)
Democrats may need to continue to respect the "Freedom" of unvaccinated, horse dewormer, Republicans to perish from covid themselves, BUT we don't have to respect the "Freedom" of Republicans to jeopardize OUR lives, OUR children's lives or our economy by refusing to wear masks and get vaccinated. Republicans were famous proclaiming, "American, Love it Or Leave it" and they should now heed their own brave patriotic words.
Truth Teller (Westfield NJ)
I am surprised the author shies away from naming the 2 largest groups of vaccine resisters--Trump/Fox followers and people of color--while shaming the ultraorthodox, whose numbers are much fewer. For us to achieve herd immunity all groups must combat misinformation and encourage their brethren to get vaccinated.
Barry Schiller (North Providence RI)
@Truth Teller but the ultraorthodox of various religions overlap with the Trump/Fox followers and are a major part of the base. Religion and religious nonsense needs to be called out when dangerous to public health
Truth Teller (Westfield NJ)
@Barry Schiller Yes, they mostly supported Trump but they are vastly too few in number to be part of his sadly enormous base. I agree that anti-vaccine religious nonsense needs to be called out, along with anti-vaccine pseudoscientific, racial bias nonsense, etc.
Charles (Seattle)
There are also antivaxers who are educated liberals. Singling out one faction of antivaxers is political.
Roger Geyer (Central KY)
Sad as it is, I can see why laymen might be scared by all the misinformation, re the vaccines, since they might lack science education, from, say, watching Fox News. But I just don't get it for the medical community. Didn't these people go to real schools and learn some real math and science? Haven't they seen what is going on in real life re Covid patients? I'm starting to wonder what people are learning in modern college educations, specialty schools, etc.
MJ Harding (California)
@Roger Geyer You can lead a student to critical thinking skills, but you can't make them think critically.
RW (Arlington Heights, IL)
Almost all of the images of people protesting against vaccination seem to show predominantly woman (80-90% estimated) in the crowd. Is this selection of images just chance or are the majority of antivaxxers actually female.
@RW - According to the 2020 census, 75 % of people working in healthcare are female, so one would expect a picture of healthcare workers, pro or anti-vax, would be mostly women.
Sandy (Brooklyn)
@PM And the lower levels of administrative staff are more likely to be less educated, thus more likely to swallow nonsense about vaccinations. These are women and people of color, predominantly.
WAGMI2035 (new york,ny)
There will be more labor market slack, prepare for more mass quits!
B.Smith (Oreland, PA)
@WAGMI2035 So be it. Let them quit. They probably shouldn't be in healthcare anyway.
Betty (Massachusetts)
@WAGMI2035 Works for me. When I make medical appointments I now ask if everyone has been vaccinated. If I'm told it's not a requirement I go elsewhere.
Sammy (San Francisco)
I was very surprised when my sister nurse told me people in her profession tend to be wary of vaccines in general. Wow, that's some indictment for vaccines.
MJ Harding (California)
@Sammy But is it? Did she give you a list of well-documented reasons, or is it just that more conservatively-minded people (who seem to be the same group not getting vaccinated) tend to these professions?
@Sammy - No, that's some indictment for nurses. (Actually, your sister was not entirely truthful. Most nurses are pro-vax and are vaccinated. Only a minority are anti-vax. They are an embarrassment to the rest of the profession.)
Ng Hai (Vermont)
Nurses , not doctors. Tells you something doesn’t it.
Kathryn (NY, NY)
I was in the hospital several months ago for a non-Covid emergency. I was hospitalized for three days. The idea that the nurses and doctors and even the orderlies could have been vectors of Covid never entered my mind. I was too sick to even contemplate that at the time but thinking of it now is terrifying. I know that not every bad thing in our country originated with Donald Trump, but this vaccine insanity certainly did. Had he treated Covid like the deadly pandemic it was, we as a country could have united against a common enemy. Instead, he mocked it as a Democratic hoax, said it would disappear and refused to wear a mask. And, his cult followed suit. I don’t have much hope that Covid will be managed any time soon. These Trumpers have dug their heels in and are unlikely to budge. What a sad time to be an American. It’s going to be a long and deadly winter.
MJ Harding (California)
@Kathryn To be fair to Trump, he was just pandering to his base who already had issues with "big government" and its alleged overreach.
Louise (USA)
@Kathryn Trump = "criminal negligence" for his pandemic response... An outcome I'd like? Trial at The Hague for "crimes against humanity"...
Charles (Seattle)
Trump was all in on vaccines. He supported funding for six covid vaccines which was the right call since only two were quick and effective to develop. He also was vaccinated while president.
John Ranta (Hancock, NH)
I don’t care about vaccine resisters. They can knock themselves out (which they seem intent on). Freedom, yay! But as the liberty crowd likes to say, freedom isn’t free. Resisters should understand two things. One is they cannot go out in public. No restaurants, clubs, stores, offices - no place where there are other people they would put at risk. Two is that if they get sick, they’re on their own. We shouldn’t waste valuable and scarce hospital resources on people who refused an inexpensive and safe cure out of belligerent ignorance.
Observor (Backwoods California)
@John Ranta Those who don't want to be vaccinated should be allowed to remain "pure," but to protect the rest of us, they should be required to get a scarlet "A" (for antivax) tattooed between their eyebrows.
M Harvey (FL)
And so it goes, so it goes. We humans are a baffling breed, eh? I remember my parents fretting in the 50's about polio, and us boys out playing during the summer months. Once the vaccine became available, it was a stampede to get us kids vaccinated. What parent in their right mind wouldn't? And now? Not in our right minds with Covid-19, eh?
Jon Tolins (Minneapolis)
Vaccine mandates for doctors and nurses already exist. I can't get hospital privileges at the hospitals I round at unless I document getting the influenza vaccine each fall. The same holds true for the dialysis units I cover. Why is the COVID-19 vaccine different? I would bet the doctor mentioned in this article has received the polio vaccine. What is different now? When I talk to patients who refuse to get vaccinated I hear a mix of ignorance, superstition, Republican partisan politics and Fox News propaganda. It is time for strictly enforced mandates.
@Jon Tolins Please to report that I went yesterday for a mildly invasive operation in NYC. Before the operation I was grilled about my vaccination status, even being asked when I was vaccinated, and with which vaccines. I was then asked to sign a series of forms explaining the mutual risks of coVID and agreeing not to hold the institution or personnel responsible. I would expect no less.
Sandy (Brooklyn)
@Jon Tolins We are trying, in New York. The latest garbage is about "religious exceptions" for "sincerely held religious beliefs". What religion favors viruses? And why are we so respectful of "sincerely held religious beliefs"?
xyz (nyc)
phony religious exemptions are the worst and nurses and some other health care professionals including PA and nursing students are submitting them in droves!
CDM (Montana)
From the article on the Cleveland Clinic pre-print study: "Importantly, not a single incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was observed in previously infected participants with or without vaccination." It insinuates that reinfections can't occur, yet the same Cleveland Clinic posted an article about whose chances of getting reinfected are highest. I'm skeptical of a pre-print study that couldn't find a single case of reinfection in over 50K cases.
PeterH (left side of mountain)
please list precisely how many doctors are anti-vax, compared to pro-vaxx-ers.
MJ Harding (California)
@PeterH Just look for how many doctors vote Republican and go from there.
Kat (Silicon Valley)
We are vaccinated. Some of our extended family are not. The same people who support STEM teaching in schools and take life-saving medications developed by biologists and scientists. The same people who would be in an uproar if their prescriptions were not available at CVS. I thought anti-vaxxers would come to their senses, when pediatric ICUs filled with children. A society that does not protect it's children is a society on the decline.
Alle C. Hall (Seattle)
@Kat I don't think you can blame society writ large for the actions of about 25% of that society. However, I will heartily agree that individuals who don't come to their senses even as their children fill the ICUS are abnormally obstinate and ... well, all sorts of unflattering words come to mind.
Thomas Renner (New York City)
I really don't understand all this. Hundreds of millions of people world wide have taken the shot with no problem so just get it. Getting the shot is your ticket to a normal life, not getting it is subjecting yourself to more and more restrictions, testing and rejection. The vaccinated are getting very tired of this pandemic and the blame will fall on the unvaccinated.
Dick Dowdell (Franklin, MA)
The only proven way to halt a pandemic is to achieve group immunity (more often called herd immunity, a veterinary term). Group immunity works because viruses cannot replicate themselves. They reproduce by modifying the genetic material in living cells, turning the cells into tiny factories for making more copies of the virus itself. If a virus cannot infect a living host, it cannot reproduce itself. If there are not enough available hosts because they are spread too thinly in a population, a viral epidemic will eventually fade away. Typically we need over 75% of a population to be immune for group immunity to work. With coronaviruses, like COVID-19, there is another problem. They are notable for frequently mutating when they are replicated. That means that group immunity is harder to achieve because over time there is enough variation among virus strains that immunity to one variation may not provide immunity to a new variation. Those not vaccinated or otherwise immune become the factories within which the new variants are created — representing a serious challenge to ever reaching group immunity. The longer we take to achieve high enough rates of vaccination, the harder it will be to reach a state of group immunity.
Elizabeth (California)
@Dick Dowdell Thanks for this clear explanation of the epidemiology and of why we need to mandate vaccination in this country and provide vaccines to the rest of the world before the virus mutates
m (austin)
I'm realizing that the only way to push the unvaccinated to be socially responsible is by money. Health insurance companies need to start demanding proof of vaccination or start to charge the unvaccinated more. I have an inkling that the same people who think it's not fair that their premiums are supporting the health care of those with preexisting conditions would be horrified if their health care demanded to see their vaccination status or face an increase in cost.
Roger Geyer (Central KY)
@m: And given the risk and potential cost, the difference should be high. Delta Airlines is charging employees who refuse to be vaccinating an additional $200 a month, for example. And of course, the risk isn't just to those who don't get vaccinated -- it's to society overall. And while we're at it, with Delta as big a mess as it is, we should be back to wearing masks indoors in public settings. And government should be mandating that.
xyz (nyc)
@m and refusal of care. If you are unvaxxed for non legit medical reasons, you can cure yourself at home.
In the Know (NYC)
Some companies are already doing that with covid coverage - charging unvaccinated employees a month surcharge on premiums, same as with smokers.
Marilyn Sue Michel (Salt Lake City, UT)
It seems there is no plan to compensate those who might experience severe adverse reactions to the shot, and the prospect of multiple "booster shots" which might become mandatory, to support the economy rather than a true need to protect individual health, is a concern.
CDM (Montana)
@Marilyn Sue Michel Supporting the economy is a side effect of having a stable, healthy population. The object is a stable, healthy population, because throwing piles of money at a deteriorating healthcare system merely to accommodate the hard right is scarcely conducive to propping up the economy.
Roger Geyer (Central KY)
@Marilyn Sue Michel: How many needless deaths is enough for you. The numbers are getting huge re Covid deaths, both in the US and globally, and rising significantly every day. Then add to that all the people hospitalized, suffering long Covid, etc. Enough is enough. The risk from the shot is TINY compared to the risk from the disease. And those with REAL medical issues could be exempted by REAL medical doctors, if the reason is valid. Given the risk from the disease, the number would be tiny as a proportion of the population.
bigbrain2 (Arcata,Ca.)
@Marilyn Sue Michel There is a federal program to compensate people for harm done by any vaccine
Texan (Texas)
"Few of us could have imagined the extent to which vaccine resistance would assert itself so aggressively, in so many different corners of society." Few of you on the coasts, perhaps, but in middle America it was obvious early in the year vaccines were not going to catch on to the extent required to stop COVID. Counting myself, only 2 people out of 13 are vaccinated in my office. My wife is a teacher and in the district where she works vaccinated teachers are the exception, not the rule - same with masks.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
Knowing this about your coworkers and neighbors, what is so compelling about Texas that would entice anyone to stay? Those of us with a “coastal” outlook look at the wide central swath of the country as somewhat crazy,intentionally and willfully backward, superstitious, and dangerous.
Ronald Janssen (Huntington Station)
@Texan Of course, many of us hope that Texas is not really "middle America."
timekeeper (Tucson, AZ)
A friend whose agency plays out possible scenarios of pandemics says in all the possible problems they tried to predict they always assumed people would get a vaccine once it became available. Among all the things that could go wrong in a pandemic, they never considered that 1/3 of the population would refuse to get vaccinated.
@timekeeper - I know. It just boggles the mind.
Jim Brokaw (California)
I don't understand the logic of those who, having blown the 'avoid infection' effort, now want to coast on their "natural immunity" instead of being vaccinated. Why not get both "natural immunity" and vaccine immunity? What logic suggests that a single, uncertain level of immunity is better than a double layer including a vaccine immunity of researched, documented efficacy? Particularly when the vaccine immunity comes at no cost, and vanishingly small risk and hazard compared with the unsought "natural immunity"? Why not both, just for that extra little bit of safety?
Roger Geyer (Central KY)
@Jim Brokaw: Apparently, sadly, conspiracy theories and politics trump politics. You'd think we weren't in the middle of the information age, the way information is so widely misused, vs. used wisely. And I get that vaccines aren't perfectly safe. But I also get that, say, two orders of magnitude MORE RISK is significant, vs. getting fully vaccinated, and getting boosters when available, even if they (gasp) end up costing me something.
Sandy (Brooklyn)
@Jim Brokaw What is interesting is that if you have had Covid, and have "natural immunity", it is greatly increased if you also have the vaccine. This is at least in part because your antibodies are from the strain you experienced, while the vaccine has a broader effect.
The idea that vaccination is a purely individual decision is wrong-headed. In areas where vaccination rates are low and hospitalizations (the vast majority of them unvaccinated) are high, treatment of Covid patients is crowding out treatment of others. In many locales, all non-emergency procedures have been postponed; in other locales, doctors are faced with the prospect of choosing between treating a patient with a heart attack and a patient with severe Covid - knowing that whomever they do not treat is likely to die. Children cannot attend school without being vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, etc.; why should health care workers be allowed to treat vulnerable patients without being vaccinated for Covid? I agree that it would be better if it were voluntary - but that does not seem to work. It is the first job of the President to protect the American public from attack - and that is what he is doing.
Larry L (Dallas, TX)
@WZ The U.S. doesn't seem to realize it's in a global competition to show it can beat COVID- a singularly difficult task. The way things are going, it shows how weak the political and cultural underpinnings of the country are. Many other developed countries despite their initial slow response finally coalesced and dealt with REALITY. They caught up with the U.S. in vaccinations and then surpassed us. The fact that the U.S. economy was able to come up with mRNA vaccines and adapt its front line manufacturing and scale its technical infrastructure for WFH and remote learning DOESN'T excuse the rest of it. If anything, the events of 2020 show how distorted the country has become over the past generation: terrible public healthcare, the incredible level of inequality by race and wealth it exposed, the clown show of the far right and the day to day exposures of so many Americans who seem unable to function as adults in the modern world.
Sheldon Owynes (Washington)
The medical community has a responsibility to lead. With so many of them not getting the vaccination, it is sending a message that echoes "The disease isn't that bad, I am not worried, I haven't been vaccinated, you will be fine too". The public will not hear the voice saying; I had the illness. It will hear the voice that says they don't want the vaccine; reasoning won't matter. I also compare the "immunity" because you got sick as a bizarre reasoning. I have had shingles, twice, I got the vaccine because they will repeat themselves---there is no immunity even if you have had them. Even the vaccine may not stop a third occurrence, but it might be less devastating than the first two. Knowing that there are diseases that, even if you have had them, will not stop a reoccurrence would be a reason to get a vaccine, not avoid it.
Roger Geyer (Central KY)
@Sheldon Owynes: When even the far right science averse sect, re the Trump worshippers, won't listen to their idol re that the disease is real and vaccination is a good idea despite "freedom", it's pretty hopeless re the idea of logic, math, science, real world data, etc. having a meaningful impact.
Fran (Midwest)
Does not making vaccination mandatory give an unfair commercial advantage to the one and only vaccine that has been fully approved by the FDA?
@Fran - The other two vaccines still have emergency approval and can be given as well. And full approval for Moderna is expected soon. Although I suppose it would be very pure and righteous to prevent a commercial company from making money on this, in the real world it's more important to get vaccines to people and avert further illness and death.
xyz (nyc)
@Fran there are others you can take!
Alle C. Hall (Seattle)
@Fran Re: " ... making vaccination mandatory give an unfair commercial advantage ... " It is because of hair-splitting such as this that the country does not already have group immunity. I am at the point that I don't care which company profits and which doesn't. What is important is that people get themselves and their children and their aged relative vaccinated. All that other stuff can be worked out later by the people who are NOT DEAD FROM COVID. I hope you are vaccinated.
Jason (Mcdonald)
I am vaccinated. If vaccines work, why am I concerned about the decisions of the un-vaccinated? This question is never answered clearly. People pick up on this and conclude that vaccines actually do not work. Or, why should children under the age of ten get vaccinated? Look at the statistics. We don't shut down society for the flu, and on and on and on and on... and then the intelligentsia clutches its pearls about "vaccine hesitancy," as if a fancy word explains something.
CDM (Montana)
@Jason Black-and-white thinkers have trouble thinking about probabilities, even though this question has been asked and answered countless times. The vax isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card, but a tool that gives one much better odds of surviving contact with the Coronavirus. The rest of us appreciate a person not becoming a drain on a delaminating healthcare system and a burden to society because of an inability to process a simple mathematical construct. Yes, please, "look at the statistics": 660K dead and no end in sight.
Because as long as the virus has a chance to mutate in unvaccinated people, it increases the chances that our vaccines will be ineffective in the near future. So the vaccinated may not be safe eventually either with a “new form” of the virus floating around!
Rachel (Albany NY)
@Jason And don't forget the 'breakthrough' infections - those wouldn't be as threatening the more people around are vaccinated. And of course - the long-term debilitating complications that the carriers are very likely inflicting on the members of society, among whom they insist on living... Maybe there should be something along the lines of the Leprosy isolation colonies of yesteryear, even though leprosy is not contagious.... Most of the inhabitants would be from red states, which would serve a dual benefit to the country...
The longer there are unvaccinated people, the longer the Covid virus will have to mutate. Eventually it may mutate into a variant that the vaccines do not protect against. Eventually it may mutate into a variant as deadly as Sars (a previous coronavirus), with a case fatality rate of about 10%. (If Covid-19 were as deadly as Sars, there would have been more than 6 Million deaths in the US to date.)
Charles (Seattle)
There will always be at least one billion people on earth unvaccinated so the virus will continually mutate.
Judith Hauser (Cleveland, Ohio)
Yesterday I had to cancel my appointment with my dentist. I asked if all the staff were vaccinated and was told that no one knows, that they were not allowed to ask or require it (according to HIPAA). I mentioned that HIPAA does not forbid this and requested a hygienist who was vaccinated. Again the answer was that there was no way of knowing. It would be unsafe for me to allow a supposedly unvaccinated person to be 6" away from my unmasked face. This office has unsafe and incorrect health policies and is potentially putting many people at risk. I made an appointment elsewhere at an office that is 100% vaccinated. And I sent info regarding HIPAA and vaccinations to the first office. Come on folks!!
Dean C Hansen (Stillwater MN)
@Judith Hauser Good for you! Thank you!
@Judith Hauser - If it makes you feel any better, the hygienist would be at more risk from you than you from him or her. After all, you would be the person with your mouth hanging open and your exhalations spread about. But on another note, businesses should be aware that having an all vaccinated staff would be a plus and would tend to attract customers. Businesses having all vaccinated workers can only benefit by advertising their status. (Since Medicare does not cover dental work and many dentists do not accept Medicaid, most dental practice employees do not fall into the category that would require vaccination under Biden's new rules.)
Roger Geyer (Central KY)
@Judith Hauser: Though not ideal, with everyone at my dentist's office working on me wearing masks AND face shields, I can live with that, vs. letting a serious tooth problem potentially escape detection. Especially since I'm fully vaccinated and trying to take care of my health. To each his own.
Susan (Up North)
Let us never again read an article or comment that anti-vaxxers are "uneducated" or intelligent. Thank you for your leadership, Mr. President. My muscles are looking forward to returning to a fitness center that is (finally!) safe. And to going back to a doctor's office where the unvaxxed - and of course unmasked - assistants have been dragged into the 21st century.
Ek (planet earth)
Valid medical exemptions for vaccinnes make sense. I understand, but disagree with ones for sincerely held religous beliefs, inasmuch it needs to be part of an actual no kidding religious group's beliefs. Other than that, I don't see a reason for not getting vaccinated now that Pfizer's is approved for general use. Other than being too young.
Emily (Fresno)
@Ek Those with "sincerely held religious beliefs" like Pope Francis, Franklin Graham and many others have said that there is no "religious reason" not to get vaccinated and have promoted vaccination quite widely.
Observor (Backwoods California)
@Ek " ... an actual no kidding religious group's beliefs." And how do you propose to determine that?
Son of the Sun (Tokyo)
The reaction of these physicians carry echoes of the 19th century surgeons who scoffed at efforts to get them to wash their hands before operating. Both imply a disdain for experts. Often demoted as "so-called." Who possessing advanced training could actually call these mildly-skeptical non-immunologists, non public health specialists, and assure them that their doubts and reservations are unfounded? " A Dr. Fauci on the phone for you Dr." "Tell them I'm busy. There's a pandemic going on."
E M Dalton (NH)
Dr. Funaro isn’t up to date with the research on this question, and I hope he comes to see that soon, but are COVID survivors really the hold-out group to focus on? I’m much more concerned about vaccine-hesitant health care workers who have no such natural immunity. (No need to put that phrase in “scare quotes”— it’s a valid concept.) Has there been a well-run survey to understand the reasons cited by unvaccinated HCWs for their resistance, and what proportion are holding off for reasons that might be affected by policy, such as paid days off for side effects or clearer safety reporting for groups who have historical reasons to distrust the medical research establishment, or even mandates? What proportion are COVID survivors? Apparently survivors are still more likely to become infected than the vaccinated. How about transmitting that infection to others? I don’t mind articles that explore the human side of someone who has been hesitant to get vaccinated, but they are starting to sound repetitive and thin. Why is Dr. Funaro avoiding the vaccine? Does he think it will somehow reduce his natural immunity? Does he think there are risks not uncovered after millions of doses? Is he prioritizing his religious community’s comfort (since he emailed a speech given at a Christian school)? Does he think doses should be saved for those who need them more, e.g. in underserved communities in this or other countries? Is he just being contrary? I hope for stories with more depth.
Roger Geyer (Central KY)
@E M Dalton: Make that hundreds of millions of doses of the major Covid-19 vaccines given safely, and you're spot on.