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Vaccine hesitancy is by design

By Matthew Delaney

If our politicians and health officials want us to be hesitant about taking the vaccine, they’re doing an excellent job. 

If they came out tomorrow and said the scientific truth that you can go about your pre-virus life once you’re vaccinated, no one would hesitate to sign up for their shots.  

That’s all that’s needed to empty out our nation’s gluttonous supply of doses and put this dreadful 14-month episode behind us.  

Truthfully, a lot of the friction involved in the vaccine passport debate would disappear with that pitch, if erroneously.  

Instead, we’ve gotten a combination of vaccine pauses, obtuse restrictions, and mixed messages on the finish line. All of which is supposed to be lubricated by gifts of cash and beer. Right. 

It’s clear this isn’t about what’s logical, and it’s definitely not about what’s best for your life. It’s about letting doubts over the vaccine linger so our leaders can rake in their favorite currency — attention. 

For a generation that doesn’t understand why other people would want to see their kids’ selfies on Instagram or their grandkids’ silly dances on TikTok, they believe their Covid soap opera is the exception we’d watch forever. 

However, they overlook that with all those eyeballs on them, we’re catching on to just how much we’re being manipulated. 

Whether you plan on getting it or not, the vaccine is the universally accepted endgame to this virus. There’s no next step in medical technology.  

So why is our chief executive giving us no indication that they are truly effective?  

A fully vaccinated President Joe Biden wears a mask on a Zoom call with foreign leaders and said he was “in trouble” for misplacing it during another event. A fully vaccinated Vice President Kamala Harris flew on a private jet with a mask on and even kissed her husband, who’s also fully vaccinated, with a mask on.  

We get it, we’re living through a once-in-a-century health crisis. Things are a bit sketchier than they normally would be. Still, if they aren’t acting like the vaccine protects them, then why should we get it?  

To use the word of the moment, all this “theater” feels like they want us to ape their most asinine behaviors and prove we’ve earned our freedoms back. 

Our public health officials have been even worse about this.  

Rochelle Walensky, the director for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, expressed a sense of “impending doom” about Covid’s spread during the upward trend of vaccinations in March.  

Yet, we’re now at our lowest rate of positivity nationwide since the start of the pandemic.  

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man who can’t say no to a TV appearance, said he still hasn’t eaten out since receiving both of his doses.  

That sounds like a personal problem, and not a reflection of how most people would feel post- or pre-vaccination

In typical Covid fashion, children have become a necessary casualty for the sake of demonstrating that there’s still some danger out there.  

The CDC’s guidance for summer camps requires that kids always wear masks, including when they’re running around outside in the sweltering heat.  

A colleague of Fauci’s at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told New York Magazine that it “is unfair and cruel to our children” to make them do that.  

Fauci is especially desperate to keep you tuned into him that he even tried to change the rules mid-game on what constitutes “herd immunity.”  

The medical community has long treated that target number as about 70% of the population developing immunity to a disease through a combination of infections and vaccinations.  

Once he deduced that such an attainable number would affect his time in the limelight, Fauci suddenly posited in December that actual herd immunity is closer to 90% of a population developing immunity.  

The kicker of it all? The CDC and FDA shut down the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over an extremely rare blood clotting hiccup, which heavily correlated with a decline in vaccination rates nationwide. 

Again, it comes across as if they’re trying to will this pandemic into extra innings so they can remain relevant.  

You’d think that the local politicians who affect our lives most directly wouldn’t want to get cute with arbitrary virus restrictions. None of them want to get voted out on the grounds of science denialism a la former President Donald Trump, would they?  

A quick glance at Washington, D.C.’s reopening will clear up that misconception.  

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s relaxed Covid-19 restrictions on April 30 allowed fully vaccinated people to go into businesses and common areas unmasked, with proof of vaccination if the business requested it.  

However, after spending her Saturday door-knocking to encourage residents to get vaccinated, Bowser went home and revised the guidance to remove the crucial part about being unmasked indoors.  

She then sidestepped around why the changes were made during a May 3 press conference, chalking it up to a staff error.  

It gets better when you see her updated reopening guidelines.  

While weddings in D.C. can host up to 250 people, “wedding guests must remain seated at all times,” Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown pointed out. 

“It doesn’t matter if events are indoors or outdoors, if people are vaccinated, if they’re wearing masks, or what other individual circumstances pertain — ‘standing and dancing receptions are not allowed’ and ‘attendees and guests must remain seated and socially distanced from each other or other household groups.’”   

It’s as if these restrictions are purposely structured to give you a false taste of real life while still preserving the misery that says, “you’re not out of the woods yet.” 

While our scientists refuse to be scientists and our politicians think they’re above pushback, at least our journalists are interested in doing journalism again.  

The New York Times recently wrote that even if herd immunity may not be possible, protecting the most vulnerable could be our best bet at shedding the virus.  

Washington Post’s Dr. Leana Wen wondered why Biden’s address to Congress wasn’t packed and maskless, showing the efficacy of the vaccine.  

She even told CNN that people should take photos of themselves going to bars and restaurants to motivate those who are on the fence about getting their shots.  

(It should be noted that Wen is an advocate for vaccine passports. So, her endorsement for the “return to normal” comes with a serious, privacy-invading asterisk).  

Nevertheless, people can’t act like the vaccine is effective if strict reopening policies aren’t giving them the opportunity to do so.  

To recap, you need the vaccine if you want to beat this pandemic. But you don’t just get your shots and get on with your life, you must wait until an undetermined amount of people get their shots before it actually works.  

So, once you’re vaccinated, you should encourage people to get it, while not being allowed to do anything to show the benefits of being vaccinated. Make sense?  

This reminds me of a small detail buried within the latest expose on Dan Snyder, the disgraced owner of the Washington Football Team.  

While the story was about Snyder’s lack of concern for the sexual harassment among his staff, there was a nugget about him ordering an executive to do cartwheels for his entertainment.  

That feels like us right now. We’re being told to do cartwheels for the amusement of elected and bureaucratic officials, like they want to see what they can get away with.  

Sad as it is to say, we’ve become conditioned to this kind of debasement. “Fifteen days to slow the spread” has creeped well past the one-year mark.  

Wearing a mask has gone from a way to curb infections to it becoming a permanent condom on social interaction.  

Getting vaccinated feels like another hoop we must jump through. Biden’s updated July 4th goal of 70% of adults immunized offers no promise of restored liberties.  

I’m not advocating for anarchy here. I’m not even saying this is some sinister plot to reconfigure our society.  

However, we are being deliberately strung along by politicians who let teachers unions influence public health and whose “Covid relief” bill was a partisan bailout package.  

It’s hard not to become cynical while watching the powers-that-be work against their own advertised solution to ending this pandemic. 

And the performative fearmongering increasingly looks like stalling, so we’ll do a few more tricks before it’s official.  

Don’t give them that satisfaction. 

Matthew Delaney


Matthew Delaney is a local journalist based in Washington, D.C. When he’s not questioning why he joined the media, he’s doing his part to restore some of its credibility with quality work

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