For how long can you ignore this evidence?

I know that I keep coming back to the topic of the folly of opposing vaccinations but I simply cannot wrap my mind around this willful blindness. A host on the the extreme right wing station Newsmax argued that vaccines ”go against nature”, as if countering debilitating illness and early death is somehow a bad thing.

Newsmax anchor Rob Schmitt cavalierly suggested on Friday night that vaccines are “against nature” because some diseases are just “supposed to wipe out a certain amount of people” since that’s just the “way evolution goes.”

In recent weeks, right-wing media has seamlessly shifted from casually pushing vaccine hesitancy on its viewers to outright advocating for vaccine resistance, culminating in a crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas this weekend cheering at the fact that the federal government hasn’t met its vaccination goals.

These people say they don’t believe in the theory of evolution but suddenly seem to like it if it can be used to support their efforts to combat vaccinations.

The California department of health has released statistics that only 0.003% (584) of the 20 million vaccinated people in CA have been infected with Covid-19 and required hospitalization.

The risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection continues as a number of Californians remain unvaccinated. With the emergence of the more transmissible Delta variant, there is a renewed urgency to get all eligible Californians vaccinated as quickly as possible and complete their two-dose vaccination process if they are receiving Pfizer or Moderna.
“We are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and its variants across our state. COVID-19 has not gone away. If you are not vaccinated, you are still at risk.,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. “Currently, the Delta variant accounts for approximately 36 percent of cases sampled in California, and we expect this to rise. The most important thing we can do to stop the spread of COVID-19, and the variants, is ensure everyone who is eligible gets vaccinated.”

National statistics show that more than 99% of the people who have died from Covid 19 were unvaccinated.

If I was at risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and even death from a contagious virus and I heard that there was a population of people in which only 0.003% had been infected by it, my immediate reaction would be “How the hell can I get into that group a quickly as possible?” And when I heard that a simple vaccination was my passport into that world, I would get it as soon as I could.

I also worry about how many of these people who became anti-vax because of the politics of covid-19 will extend this to all other vaccinations, especially childhood vaccinations, and not give their children their shots.

These people have the luxury to indulge their idiocy because the widespread success of science and modern medicine has, paradoxically, made that success invisible. Polio, typhoid, diphtheria, mumps, measles, and a whole host of others diseases are now so rare or nonexistent that they do not enter their consciousness and so they think that somehow they went away on their own and will never come back.

I hate to be bleak but I think that nothing will persuade these people until someone close to them gets the disease and suffers greatly or dies. And even then there will still be some who will claim that they themselves have natural immunity and thus will be just fine.


  1. garnetstar says

    I think you’re quite right about nothing persuading the anti-vax until disease, suffering, and death hit them. I read a very sad story of an anti-vax mother whose 13-year-old daughter has been on a ventilator with COVID these seven days, and who may well die. The mother is now saying vaccines are good, and we should get them. Too late.

    I gather that the republicans’ idea is to encouage as much infection as possible, so as to have Biden’s ending the pandemic fail, and blame him for that in the midterms. Let alone that that isn’t going to work, it is one of the most murderous, vicious plans I’ve ever heard. Thousands of deaths, disabilities, long illnesses, economic damage, and bankruptcies from hospital bills. On purpose.

  2. raven says

    I hate to be bleak but I think that nothing will persuade these people until someone close to them gets the disease and suffers greatly or dies.

    No. Not even then.
    This in fact, happens many times a day in the USA already.
    Referring to Southwest Missouri, with a huge outbreak of Covid-19 and low vaccination rates.

    The mother of a girl I went to school with (who still lives in that area) recently came down with the Delta variant, despite receiving both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Since she’s 80 years old, I was obviously worried, but she pulled through and is feeling much better.

    You would think, then, that this would wise up her daughter, son-in-law and friends to the dangers. But no! Despite her mother pleading for her to get the vaccine, this woman says that she will continue to “plead the blood of Jesus” to keep her safe and says that her getting the vaccine would be tantamount to receiving “the mark of the devil.” And sadly, most of her friends in that area agree.

    The antivaxxers don’t care if they get Covid-19 virus and die or become long haulers. If they die, they go to heaven to be with jesus so why should they care.

  3. cartomancer says

    I am at my wits’ end with trying to convince my brother to have his vaccination. It’s a bit of a different case than with the US far rightists discussed here, and at one stage of remove, but it is still causing me significant distress.

    My brother isn’t opposed to the vaccine. Indeed, he’d like to get it. But his awful wife has apparently taken against it and threatened to divorce him if he does. While that seems like a two birds with one stone deal to me, for some reason he has decided to go along with her idiocy. “For a quiet life” he says, in his usual and infuriatingly nonchalant way. It worries me how little this whole pandemic has got him worried, to be honest. But, then again, it is entirely of a piece with his usual approach to life -- the standard straight, white, male, cisgendered assumption that everything is basically fine and all these “problems” he occasionally hears about are something that happen to other people. Not that he hears about them often, because he doesn’t watch the news or keep up with current affairs in any way, shape or form.

    I don’t know where this stupidity is coming from in her case though. She’s Japanese and I don’t think there’s a lot of Japanese anti-vaccine nonsense out there, but I don’t know. And he refuses to get it and just not tell her because that would be “dishonourable” or some such bollocks. What that he held himself to the same ethical codes when dealing with me!

    I’ve tried appealing to my brother’s better nature. I’ve tried pleading with him. I’ve even tried bribery. None of it has worked so far. I don’t know what else to try, apart from keeping on the pressure as long as it takes to break him out of this ill-advised stubbornness.

  4. Matt G says

    Meanwhile, in Tennessee, the government is taking aim at ALL vaccinations. Absolutely mind numbing.

  5. Katydid says

    Maybe your brother could get the shot and not say, to maintain a quiet life.

    My Dutch friends are refusing to get the vax, as well. They’re also quite angry about various lockdowns and mask requirements in their country. The one is a nurse in a geriatric care home and insists COVID is a hoax and the vaccine is nothing but aborted babies, and since she’s a Christian, she won’t have anything to do with that. Basically, insert all the Facebook lies, since they make up the entirely of their thinking.

    It astounds me that the so-called “pro-life” folks see nothing wrong with killing dozens by infecting them with COVID.

  6. billseymour says

    garnetstar @1:

    I think you’re quite right about nothing persuading the anti-vax until disease, suffering, and death hit them.

    I have heard stories about anti-vaxers who change their minds after they, or their loved ones, get the disease; but I’ve also heard stories about folks who get COVID yet continue to insist that it’s all a fake and that health care workers are poisoning them…or something.

    I can’t get my mind around it, either.  The best I can do is guess that it’s a tribal marker.  Sure, there are wackaloons on both the left and the right; but on the right, the wackaloons are in charge.  That strikes me as a difference in kind, not just a difference in degree.

    I wish there were something I could say that would make them change their minds, but I don’t believe in magic.

  7. mnb0 says

    “For how long can you ignore this evidence?”
    Until your loved ones end up at the IC and some of them die. That’s not bleak, that’s realistic. Never underestimate the ability of people to delude themselves. The lesson to be learnt is that applies to you and me as well.

    ”go against nature”
    I love this argument. Arsenic is part of nature. I guess this fool takes a dosis everyday. At the other hand cars and planes go against nature as well.

    “supposed to …..”
    And this is why teleology sucks so much.

  8. mnb0 says

    @7 BillS: “I have heard stories about anti-vaxers who change their minds after …..”
    I haven’t. However the percentage anti-vaccers in the Netherlands has decreased dramatically last few months.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    Matt G @ # 5: … in Tennessee, the government is taking aim at ALL vaccinations.

    Not quite, but close. Tennessee now bans state & local governments from requiring vaccines and cancelled outreach and education (for all vaccines, not just those for COVID-19), but has yet to cancel every vaccination program in the state (though apparently you can claim religious exemptions from same).

    I have family there -- I hope they’re hiding from their neighbors.

  10. jrkrideau says

    hate to be bleak but I think that nothing will persuade these people until someone close to them gets the disease and suffers greatly or dies.

    I have heard reports from the Manitoba bible-belt where people are denying there is any such thing as Covid-19 until it kills them.

  11. dean56 says

    My sister-in-law and her husband are both over 80, she is still receiving treatment for breast cancer, he has COPD. She’s received shots (somehow) but due to her treatment the effectiveness is suspect. He hasn’t had his yet (based on advice from a doctor to wait for some treatment he’s getting to end), Their daughter and her husband haven’t been vaccinated and won’t (apparently since trump was “scammed” out of office they believe the Democrats have altered the vaccines. Don’t ask me, they live in WI.) They wanted to visit my in-laws and were furious when they were told they would have to wear masks and wouldn’t be able to stay in the same house. No visit until “the parents come to their senses”.

    Stupidity is incredibly strong with people on political extremes — and we’re seeing that the depths of stupidity on the right are un-plummable (I don’t care that that isn’t a word).

  12. garnetstar says

    @12, I’m trying to imagine a daughter is who quite willing to be the cause both her parents’ deaths, and would probably feel justified even so.

    @4, that is very difficult. They say that what works in the vax-hesitant is their family’s urging, or their families and friends all gettting the vax and doing fine, or the advice of their own doctor. But, your brother thinking that reality doesn’t apply to him is very hard to penetrate. It’s obviously something that people should learn *before* holding that belief has such deadly consequences.

    I don’t think that even a live Zoom session with someone who has or had COVID would work, since he seems to be fine with his wife. Sorry.

  13. johnfarnham says

    Ah, the certainty of the Echo Chamber. Confidence in the efficacy of the immune system becomes misplaced religious fervour -- despite a growth in population alleged to challenge sustainability. I prefer not to have my car or computer serviced by people not likely to know what they are doing or capable of reversing their changes. This is far too high a bar for medicine, which continues to be a ‘practice’ rather than a reliable protocol. It continues to be difficult to access reliable assessment of what has been the result of using a multiplicity of vaccines -- dozens, rather than only 2 diseases thought threatening enough to warrant speculative adventuring. If standard practice allowing such rash action is thought prudent, there is no reassurance in the emergency use of fresh formulations which rely heavily on inducing hyperimmune response as a basis for use. This in a population suffering runaway immune allergic action. What a scenario for ‘fighting’ a ‘novel’ coronavirus. Not knowing what to do has become stimulation for doing something -- whether it makes sense or not. BTW Whatever became of antivirals ? You would think they did not exist.

  14. Ken Baker says

    My brother’s kids watched his wife- their stepmother- suffer horribly and then die from COVID. They still won’t get the vaccine. And it’s not like an “evil stepmother, good riddance” situation. Everyone loved her. But Fox News says ‘no’, and sadly the kids, adults now, are Fox News cultists.

  15. garnetstar says

    johnfarnhamm @14, your writing style seems elliptical enough that it’s difficult for me to understand what you’re saying, but, as for anti-virals? 1) there are very few, 2) they usually work only on a small number of viruses each, 3) they are usually only effectively administered (one or two exceptions) by IV on a hospitalized patient, 4) side effects at effective doses are all things like severe and permenent kidney damage.

    I will glady take vaccines that have been worked on since 2003, and went through Phase I human trials long ago, before the current COVID virus emerged.

    Also, since they work (as in, in the US close to 100% of hospitalized cases and deaths are unvaccinated), I’m fine with not trying for serious kidney damage in the entire population.

    Vaccines have a far longer, far more well-researched, and far more solid history, than anti-virals do.

  16. prl says

    I also wonder which two diseases johnfarnham apparently thinks are the only ones worth vaccinating against, and why.

  17. anat says

    johnfarnham @14:
    This is far too high a bar for medicine, which continues to be a ‘practice’ rather than a reliable protocol.

    Ahem. The most reliable protocol in medicine is always a ‘practice’ -- you need to find out what the problem is with the specific patient and how their individual body responds to whichever intervention you are going to use.

  18. jenorafeuer says


    She’s Japanese and I don’t think there’s a lot of Japanese anti-vaccine nonsense out there, but I don’t know.

    Oh, yes, there very much is a lot of Japanese anti-vaccine nonsense. A lot of this dates back to 1989, when the MMR vaccine used in Japan caused a number of adverse events; the particular mumps strain used had issues and was already discontinued elsewhere for safety reasons. By 1994, Japan stopped requiring vaccinations for entry into schools as a result of the public backlash, and to this day they only ‘strongly recommend’ separate Measles, Mumps, and Rubella doses, and have never even recommended a new MMR formulation. The Japanese government has never risked the level of pushback it got before, and as a result even education about why vaccines are important can be lacking.

    If anything, the Japanese anti-vax narrative has a lot more in the way of actual history to back it up than the anti-vax narrative in England or North America.
    The Lancet: ‘Why is Measles Still Endemic in Japan’
    Japan’s Vaccine Hesitancy Has Implications for COVID Control, and the Summer Olympics

    (Heck, one of the plot points in the 1997 anime Revolutionary Girl Utena involved family of one of the main characters getting measles. Several of my friends were rather startled when I pointed out that, sadly, measles had been having a comeback in Japan for years by that point…)

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