Saturday May 29th 2021
Corona vaccination as a sour beer?
USA vies for skeptics and hesitants
The US vaccination campaign is losing momentum. Even though there are vaccines in abundance. Fewer and fewer people want to be injected. This endangers the containment of the pandemic.
Millions in winnings, free flights and scholarships, free taxi rides and plenty of free drinks: In the USA, states and municipalities are constantly outdoing each other with new incentives to get citizens to get the corona vaccination. In a global comparison, the USA is a land of milk and honey for vaccinations: Nobody here talks about a lack of supplies anymore, the only thing that matters here is getting the syringes to the people. But according to experts, this is a problem: There are too many undecided, skeptics and anti-vaccination agents. If it is not possible to convince the majority of them, effective containment of the pandemic in the USA is likely to fail. Then there is a risk of more infections, illnesses and deaths. The longed-for return to a certain normalcy – and the associated recovery of the world’s largest economy – would also be endangered.
In many parts of the country, large vaccination centers have now been closed again because there is no longer enough demand. Vaccination is made as easy as possible for Americans: There has been no prioritization for certain population groups for weeks, and thousands of pharmacies and municipalities now offer vaccinations without making an appointment. US President Joe Biden and his corona experts are now calling on citizens almost daily to get the anti-corona syringe. “Now is the time to get vaccinated,” Biden said recently. “It would be a tragedy – and an avoidable – if the Covid cases among the unvaccinated increase again, especially since the vaccinations are free and practical,” warned Biden. “The fight against the virus is not over.”
Vaccination campaign stalled
Half of the approximately 260 million adults in the United States are already fully vaccinated. But now the vaccination campaign is running out of momentum: At its peak, more than three million people were vaccinated every day, now the average is only 1.75 million, and the trend is falling. All citizens aged twelve and over are currently eligible to vaccinate, i.e. almost 280 million people. But so far only 166 million have received the first vaccination. Around 114 million people entitled to vaccinations have not even received their first injection. Experts therefore fear that it will not be possible to achieve what is known as herd immunity in the USA. Roughly speaking, this is the point at which so many people are immune from a previous infection or vaccination that it is difficult for the virus to spread across the country.
Not enough syringes in the country
There is a clear urban-rural divide when it comes to vaccinations. In urban centers such as the capital Washington, almost 70 percent of residents have already received at least the first vaccination. In rural states in the south such as Mississippi, on the other hand, the rate is just around 44 percent. Experts cite several factors as reasons for the tougher vaccination campaign in rural areas: Corona can feel less threatening in sparsely populated areas, and many rural residents tend to belong to the more skeptical population groups, be it for religious or political reasons.
Fears and wrong information
There are people in all population groups who do not want to be vaccinated because they fear side effects. This is especially true for members of minorities, who often have poorly paid jobs that do not make it possible to report sick while wages are still paid. In addition, many people are put off by misinformation about safety or alleged side effects of vaccinations such as loss of fertility and impotence. Many Americans under 30 are still undecided about vaccination after polls. Disease is on average less dangerous for this age group, so many wait and see. The undecided cause experts a little less worry, because sooner or later they can be convinced with the right incentives. It is more difficult to change people’s minds about vaccination skeptics. According to experts, this includes many evangelical Christians, Republicans and members of minorities, especially blacks and Latinos.
Republicans and Evangelicals
Surveys show that Republicans, especially rural men, are very suspicious of the government. They don’t want anything from Washington to prescribe them, not even vaccinations. There is also the political dimension: Ex-President Donald Trump always downplayed the threat posed by the virus, and now it is precisely the government of Democrat Joe Biden that is promoting the vaccinations. Skepticism is also widespread among millions of evangelical Christians. According to a Pew poll, 45 percent of white Protestants do not want to be vaccinated. According to the experts, this is also due to a mistrust of science.
Blacks and Latinos
Experts are concerned about the relatively low vaccination rate for blacks and Latinos. The two minorities, which together make up nearly a third of the U.S. population, were among the groups hardest hit by coronavirus and death. But they lag behind when it comes to vaccinations relative to the population. Many blacks distrust the government and the healthcare system because historically they have both been treated worse than whites. The worst example of this was the so-called Tuskegee study, in which black men and men suffering from syphilis were de facto abused as test subjects and inadequate treatment until the 1970s. Blacks have been legally equal in the US for a good five decades, but the unequal treatment of blacks in the healthcare system is still a problem today. In the case of Latinos, on the other hand, the language barrier, their immigration status or the fear of loss of earnings can play a role.
Im obligation and incentives
Universities and hospitals are starting to make corona vaccination compulsory. But a general compulsory vaccination is politically unthinkable in the USA because it would be too great a state interference with the right to self-determination. However, all parties are increasingly agreeing to increase the vaccination rate with incentives. In the state of Ohio, five vaccinated people can win one million US dollars (820,000 euros) each, in California, among other things, ten prizes of 1.5 million dollars each were awarded, and in New York there is even a chance of five million dollars. In addition, the vaccination hesitants are lured, among other things, with generous scholarships, free securities and even luxury cruises.