Politics Causing Vaccine Hesitancy


Photo via Economic Times

Veronika Owen, Staff Writer

Vaccinations against COVID-19 have decreased immensely due to mistrust and our polarized political climate.  According to the Mayo Clinic vaccination tracker, the United States has a fully vaccinated population of 59.7% as of September 21st, 2021.  An average of ⅔ of the population must be fully vaccinated or have antibodies from prior infection in order to reach herd immunity.  There has been a significant slow-down in vaccination rates since April, due to unvaccinated people refusing or unable to get the vaccine.  Most of this unease comes from the internet.

Social media has greatly impacted Americans’ willingness to get vaccinated.  Multiple theories have been spread via the internet that are plaguing people’s judgement. The Bill Gates microchip implant theory, the fear of the mRNA vaccine altering DNA, and the suspicion that the vaccine contains DNA from aborted children are just naming a few.  These have all been debunked by scientists.  Bill Gates has never said anything about implanting chips or tracking people. Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine may be the first of its kind to be administered to the public, but the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), has approved it just as it has with vaccines of the past.  In addition, there is no human DNA in the vaccine.  Because of the nature of the mRNA vaccine, it had to be tested with living cells.  The misconception is that the scientific community actually used HeLa cells (donated by Henrietta Lacks in the 1960s), which are tumor cells scientists have used to test medicines for years.   

Students are impacted the most since statistically, kids have a higher recovery rate than senior citizens, politicians and social media platforms such as Facebook are disapproving of parents getting their kids vaccinated.  Children may not be as likely to die, but as schools open back up, it’s clear that students are still susceptible to getting sick.

Many of these conspiracies can be traced back to political divisions.  The clear political division reverberating through social media divides Americans to the local level.  Even at our own school, people face political struggles weighing the option of getting vaccinated.  And while there’s no long term data on the vaccine yet, that by no means means the vaccine is unsafe or that it doesn’t prevent COVID.  In the words of Winston Churchill, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.”  In the world of polarized social media, the spread of misinformation is more prominent than ever, and philosophical beliefs are preventing America from returning to normal life.