Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Coronavirus Update 6–30–2021: Because of your vaccine hesitancy, COVID-19 is here to stay

Last week I asked you, my readers, for your creative ideas to incentivize more people to get vaccinated. 

Your thoughts—

"Since celebrities seem to have a lot of clout, maybe they should be asked to encourage others to get vaccinated. Truly, if there was a way to have Alex Trebek tell America to get vaccinated, it might happen. Or the All State Insurance Guy. This may sound silly, but there is so much mistrust of the government on either side of the aisle, that someone not seen as political needs to lead the charge here." (I suggested Tom Hanks.)

"A modern 'Got Milk?' campaign with athletes, etc."

"Creating a public event of getting your shots tied to some form of entertainment. The more public you make it tied to good memories, the better chance of influencing those to do just go and do it. The vast majority of shots are done behind closed doors."

"Political and religious-leader endorsements."

"I think we should employ three distinct approaches: The carrot, stick, and collaborative approach. Carrot - money (everyone who is vaccinated after a certain date gets $100.) Stick - proof of vaccination is required to travel by airplane, attend a large event, can't renew their driver's license, or something else. Collaborative - Perhaps use a canvassing approach like we do for elections or the census to deliver the vaccine. Or, an all-out media campaign similar to what was used to reduce tobacco use or prevent drug use."
My conclusion—if a million-dollar lottery and relaxed mask rules haven't convinced half of our country to get their jab, then nothing will. And this makes me very sad, very worried, and very scared. 

Sad that the greatest scientific achievement of my lifetime will not be enough to end this pandemic; worried that COVID-19 will just be something that we have to live with forever, like the common cold but with much more dangerous and deadly consequences; and scared that the virus will keep mutating, getting more virulent and dangerous to the point that it will evade my vaccinated immunity.

Think I'm exaggerating? 

Consider that that Delta variant, which is responsible for 20 percent (and quickly rising) of the total U.S. cases and is set to soon become our dominant variant, is 40 - 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant (the original U.K. variant), which itself was 40 - 50 percent more transmissible than the original virus. Another Covid surge is coming for the unvaccinated.

Consider that the World Health Organization has urged everyone to continue wearing masks when indoors in public because of concern over the Delta variant and to slow its transmission. Los Angeles County has followed suit, recommending the everyone mask up indoors regardless of vaccination status. Some other cities and states will likely do the same, but not enough and most likely in places that already have higher vaccination rates.

Thus, I'll just keep doing what I've been doing—wearing my KN95 if I'm not confident that everyone around me is vaccinated, and using this space to do what I can to educate people about the safety, efficacy, and necessity of the vaccine. If I can convince even one person to move from unvaccinated to vaccinated, I've used my little corner of the internet to do some good … and that's my personal incentive to keep writing.