Infectious disease doctors like to tell you that vaccines don't save lives; vaccination does. It's a cliche because it's true. We can have all the vaccines in the world but fail without the social cohesion required to make them work.
As doctors, we're taught to stick to the facts and science, and leave politics out of it. That binary has always been artificial; everything is at least shaded in political overtones. But not everything becomes fully woven into a sense of party identity.
One of my main concerns throughout the pandemic has been that this would happen with COVID-19. In a worst-case disaster scenario, the threat devolves into an all-out wedge issue—or, more accurately, is deliberately made into a wedge issue by a few people who consolidate power/money by dividing us over simple things that are in everyone's interest. It means a much longer pandemic and a lot of needless suffering and death for people who get caught up in a fake feud.
Now it seems we're headed in that way. No dimension in this new survey is a more start predictor of vaccination status than political party.
I had been holding onto hope that things might not devolve so starkly. Especially since most every prominent Republican leader got vaccinated, and Trump oversaw the development of the vaccine, took it and endorsed it.
But many have also worked against preventive measures under the pretense of being opposed to rules generally, and allowed conspiracies and disinformation to spread while staying silent. It doesn't take many bad actors to halt progress.
We've been here before. Nothing is unique about this virus or preventive measures; nothing is an irreconcilable ideological difference. Any issue can be fed into the binary where you must take sides: liberty vs socialist tyranny. And then, as with issues like addressing climate change or gun violence—which were once problems that we could at least talk openly about and largely agree warranted action—basic safety measures start to carry significance far beyond the actual issue.
Once you believe you're working against tyranny, bizarre behavior becomes justifiable. It becomes a signal of virtue within the group not simply to disagree or propose alternative fixes, but simply to reject or undermine any efforts at all.
Anyway, this was supposed to be a quick post. I've written in more detail about this issue and will keep watching it. This is the only remaining barrier to ending the pandemic. I hope we can all remain conscious of that and, at least, try not to make it worse by playing into the artificial sense of division.
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