Delta Variant Surges As GOP Peddles Vaccine Mistrust
By Peter Ingle (@PeterIngleNC)
As cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant rise sharply in unvaccinated pockets of the United States, Republican lawmakers continue to peddle vaccine misinformation. One of the most prominent vaccine skeptics has been Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI).
Johnson said on Hannity’s television show, reflecting a worrisome degree of irresponsibility for an elected official, that “there is a risk to the vaccine. Again, it’s very small, but there are some pretty serious side effects, including death.”
To put Johnson’s quote in proper context, only three deaths have occured linked to blood clots from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine out of the at least 187 million Americans who have been vaccinated and the 339 million doses administered in the United States. Since then, treatments have been developed to prevent these blood clots and the likelihood of future deaths are almost next to zero.
In comparison, 102 people died per day from car accidents in the United States in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But you don’t hear Republicans claiming that no one should drive.
Some Republicans have even cited a vaccine death toll of over 6,000 to inflame their rhetoric surrounding the issue. In fact, this number does not refer to deaths from the vaccine, but simply Americans who were vaccinated that died from other causes, per the CDC.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene was recently suspended from Twitter for 12 hours after using the platform to recklessly spread that lie along with other COVID-19 misinformation.
The continued misinformation from Republicans has had real implications on where the Delta variant is hitting hardest. Due to misinformation that people like Greene spout, the spread has been most pervasive in conservative communities and states such as Florida, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
As more Americans experience the impact of the most contagious COVID-19 variant yet, the Washington Post reported that 4.7 million Americans have decided to trust the science and get the jab in the past two weeks. On Friday, 865,000 people received a dose - the highest single day figure in a month.
Specifically in some of the hardest hit states, via the CDC, Louisiana saw a 114 percent increase in vaccinations, Arkansas a 96 percent increase, and Alabama a 65 percent increase. The rising vaccination rate is great news, however, it is unfortunate that it took more cases and deaths in order to see an uptick in vaccination rates.
As you can see below, the science is there. Get vaccinated and stay safe.
Peter Ingle is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and majored in Political Science and Public Policy with a minor in History. He has worked in the past as a Finance Intern for North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and for North Carolina Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Anita Earls.