Some (non-libertarian) sense on vaccine hesitancy and mandates from Zeynep Tufekci
Vaccine hesitancy is a serious problem. It is killing people and prolonging the social and economic costs of the pandemic.
One possible policy response is to make vaccination mandatory, at least in certain contexts (hospitals, schools, interstate transportation, etc.).
Libertarians frequently object to vaccine mandates in uncompromising terms. They exaggerate the risk of vaccine side effects. They insist on individual liberty while ignoring the costs that the unvaccinated impose on others. They also elide the fact that vaccine hesitancy is frequently based on misinformation and fear, not on devotion to grand libertarian principle, and they deny that we have any obligations to help those who are wrongly worried about vaccine safety.
Here is a useful corrective from Zeynep Tufekci writing in the New York Times:
The research and data we do have show that significant portions of the unvaccinated public were confused and concerned, rather than absolutely opposed to vaccines.
. . .
The Covid States team shared with me more than a thousand comments from unvaccinated people who were surveyed. Scrolling through them, I noticed a lot more fear than certainty. There was the very, very rare “it’s a hoax” and “it’s a gene therapy” but most of it was a version of: I’m not sure it’s safe. Was it developed too fast? Do we know enough? There was also a lot of fear of side effects, worries about lack of Food and Drug Administration approval and about yet-undiscovered dangers.
. . .
It may well be that some of the unvaccinated are a bit like cats stuck in a tree. They’ve made bad decisions earlier and now may be frozen, part in fear, and unable to admit their initial hesitancy wasn’t a good idea, so they may come back with a version of how they are just doing “more research.”
We know from research into human behavior but also just common sense that in such situations, face-saving can be crucial.
In fact, that’s exactly why the mandates may be working so well. If all the unvaccinated truly believed that vaccines were that dangerous, more of them would have quit. These mandates may be making it possible for those people previously frozen in fear to cross the line, but in a face-saving manner.
Research also shows that many of the unvaccinated have expressed concerns about long-term effects. Consider an information campaign geared toward explaining that unlike many drugs, for which adverse reactions can indeed take a long time to surface, adverse effects of vaccines generally occur within weeks or months, since they work differently, as the immunologist Andrew Croxford explained in the Boston Review. Medical professionals could be dispatched to vaccination clinics, workplaces and stores to get that point across. (Yes, medical professionals are overwhelmed, but the best way to reduce their burden is to vaccinate more people.) This would let some hesitant people feel like they had “done their research,” while interacting with a medical professional — the basis for more trust.
. . .
Of course, there are some people who it seems will never be persuaded. One strategy that has been shown to work is to highlight deceptive practices. In campaigns to keep teens from smoking, advertisements pointed out how the tobacco industry manipulated people. For Covid, the unvaccinated could be shown that they have been taken in by people who have misled them, even while getting vaccinated themselves.
There are arguments against vaccine mandates, including arguments about the value of individual liberty, the danger of government overreach, implementation challenges, and the risk that mandates will backfire and increase political polarization and opposition to mandatory vaccination for all diseases.
The strength of these arguments is debatable. In a rational world we could debate whether mandates make sense, all things considered. And one of the things that we would consider is the fact that unvaccinated people are dying unnecessarily, because they have been bombarded with misinformation.
Nice job of putting the unvaccinated in human rather than political terms. I am still very angry with the elite leaders who have failed to lead a full on vaccination effort. I do not think you can come up with any justification or ethical rationale for their positions. They want power and if a few of their supporters die it is fora good cause.
There are some real critters out there. Because they do not want to do it, they make it problematic if you facemask, socially distance, and get vaccinated. I do not care if they do not get vaccinated. Whatever I say will not convince them even though my knowledge surpasses those.
What angers me is there unwillingness to stay away from us. They can have their beliefs. Just get away from my wife and I.
One clear benefit? Their dying young puts additional funding into SS. We should gain another year of funding.
Well harmony seems to prevail around Brown count WI. The unmasked aren’t harassing the masked, and very few know anything about the vaccine status of anyone other than young kids.
Their individual liberty shall not impinge upon my liberty causing me harm.
You misspelled Zeynep Tüfekçi
I wish I could say that the anti-mask, anti-vax crowd were not harassing people here. Not on the streets, maybe, but the school board meeting last month was cancelled when the cops were called out to restore order. The rescheduled meeting still had 2 hours of restrained yelling by parents who already knew the local board could not override the state mandates. Latest case rate was 20 per day. That is down from 30 a day two weeks ago. High during the first surge was 6. Sigh.
Fortunately, I do not have to attend such meetings.
Have seen similar in Planning Commission meetings (VP) about rezoning land to homes plus other uses. A Township Board can not just ignore the rights of applicant/owners to build as it could be classified as a “takings.” So people get all upset over it. They would get even more upset if we did not allow consideration of land usage, the Township loses in court, they end up with increased taxes, and the land owner still builds what they want or more.
We did not have to change zoning fortunately which left us an out and roads needed expansion which the builder did not want to contribute too.
Threats for violence should be handled for what they are, threats. Public meetings should be recorded like ours were as it adds a dimension to which many will not cross.
It is a matter of their rights versus the right to safety of the rest of us. Their rights are not sacrosanct.
i received two somewhat anti-vax emails on Sunday…one was thoughtful, concerned, wondering what i thought, and expressing relief that a couple of mutual friends (in their late 70s) had so far ” avoided the the shot, thankfully”
the other one? well, here’s part of it:
People are delusional.