But if the unvaccinated and their motivations are complex and heterogeneous, then these strategies are heavier. Internet censorship will have little effect if many vaccine-hesitant are offline rather than very online or relying on personal experience rather than anti-vaccine memes. (Like Facebook Noted by defending against attacks from the Biden administration, its users are more vaccine-friendly than the national average.)
Meanwhile, the harsh vaccination warrants could alienate not only Fox viewers, but part of the political community as well. Kaiser’s data shows slight majority support for the general idea of employers requiring vaccination, for example, but 61% are opposed to their own employer making such a requirement, which is probably the most significant statistic. Support for immunization mandates for children is equally low: While 52% of Americans support immunization mandates in K-12 education, it drops to 37% among parents of children under age 18, and only 45% of Democrats with children under 12 plan to vaccinate them as soon as a vaccine becomes available.
In a polarized landscape with largely suspicious institutions, a more patient approach seems much more civically sound: a mix of local outreach, public health advice that consistently promises normalcy as the benefit of immunization (and does not take it away). arbitrarily), and with skeptics. (The idea that all leading conservative skeptical arguments must be a serious liar is a major mistake in itself.)
But – and here the pro-vaxx alarm is understandable – patience has substantial costs. Combine the large unvaccinated population with the fact that vaccines save lives but clearly do not quell all transmission, and we are ready for the near future with repeated epidemics and fewer deaths, but still far too many.
Some of these deaths may be inevitable. Like William Hoenig argued in a recent much-cited Twitter thread, the Delta variant is likely the harbinger of a future in which Covid continues as an endemic disease that many people repeatedly contract but whose dangers are mitigated by previous immunity, vaccines and boosters. In this exemption, some people will inevitably still die of Covid as some people die of the flu; the hope of “Covid zero” slips out of reach.
If this is our future, however, how we get there still matters. The more people whose first immune experience is with a vaccine rather than the virus itself, the fewer will die during the transition to the future status quo. (Also, the sooner we reach this status quo, the less temptation there is in more liberal parts of the country to adopt destructive policies like closing schools this fall or winter.)
So is there a way to dramatically expand immunizations into the narrow window of the next six months without resorting to cumbersome, possibly counterproductive interventions? To me, the one major idea that seems worth considering is the simplest: we could start paying people to get vaccinated – not just in lottery tickets or even in issued savings vouchers. by West Virginia, but in large amounts of money.