While some are squandering their access to a vaccine that is demonstrably saving lives, there are millions who have not gotten even a single dose.
I spent a few days in San Antonio, Texas, and once again found myself in a situation in which, with respect to the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, there is a disparity with our situation here in Mexico.
In the streets, offices and shopping malls, there were many people without masks. They seemed confident that they had already had it once and were not going to get it again, or were going to get a milder case of it. (Out of fear or caution for those we have not made sick, prudence advises us not to stop masking.)
But surely, as here, there are some who are not planning to be vaccinated in order to do “their own research,” or because they do not believe in vaccines.
It is no secret that President Joe Biden has faced difficulties at the beginning of his administration, among them COVID-19 vaccination, in large part because of the political polarization he inherited from Donald Trump.
Biden promised to administer 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the first 100 days of his presidency. He reached that goal in his first 58 days as president, so he doubled it to 200 million vaccinations, which he reached on day 92.
Apparently, it was a success: He kept his pledge and moved the United States closer to a way out of the pandemic. But he may have underestimated the extent of the opposition.
In spite of a huge effort to combat disinformation, the conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine remain on the internet. Those conspiracy theories have been pure poison for those who want to return to normalcy.
It is completely untrue that the vaccines include a microchip for satellite monitoring, untrue that the vaccine alters our DNA, untrue that it is the vaccine itself which has created several variants and untrue that it causes infertility.
Last Wednesday, the NBA attracted the attention of the sports world when it revealed the steps it will take to dock the pay of unvaccinated basketball players. Because they are unvaccinated, they will not be allowed to play in games.
One of the big stars of the NBA, Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets, has refused to get vaccinated. Some sources have reported that he has claimed that “secret societies” are implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for “a plan of Satan.”
After refusing to share his vaccination status for months, superstar LeBron James confirmed last Tuesday that he is fully vaccinated. He said at first he felt “very skeptical,” and also felt that it is not his responsibility to be socially involved in this issue since it has to do with other people’s lives.
By contrast, other heroes, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, have sent a strong message to those who are refusing to be vaccinated: “People who say they haven’t finished doing the research yet, really haven’t done any research.” He added that this perpetuates the stereotype of the dumb jock who is only in the sport for the money.
In the United States, vaccination is not just about the collective health and welfare. It has continued to cause polarization and remains a partisan racial and social issue.
According to The New York Times, last July it was estimated that 93 million people who were eligible to be vaccinated had decided not to get the vaccine.
While many may believe the conspiracy theories, or are skeptical, they will squander their access to a vaccine that is demonstrably saving lives, while there are millions who have not gotten even a single dose.