What the Left and Right get Wrong about the COVID-19 Vaccine
We have not one, not two, but three safe and effective vaccines so there is no reason to be going back to early-pandemic protocols
This is not the story I originally planned to write. When I decided to get back into writing this summer, I was going to focus on the importance of getting vaccinated even though federal messaging has been awful, and how Republican elected officials should encourage their constituents to take the vaccine if given the opportunity. I originally proposed this topic at the end of July, and to say a lot has happened since then would be the understatement of the year. The CDC announcement that vaccinated people should resume wearing masks indoors in areas of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission and the Biden Administration’s proposed vaccine mandates for federal employees and businesses with more than 100 employees sent me back to the drawing board.
I am neither an epidemiologist nor a lawyer, but I have done a lot of research on the COVID-19 vaccine and its rollout, including centering my graduate school capstone on the subject of vaccine hesitancy in Garrett and Somerset Counties, which currently have the lowest vaccination rates in the State of Maryland. I’m also a person who appreciates American innovation through programs such as Operation Warp Speed, which fast-tracked a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
It is no secret that the federal marketing of the vaccine has been confusing and frustrating to many. I have spent years working in constituent services and at my previous job, a majority of my time included helping people find vaccines and encouraging people to get them when given the opportunity. I spent hours looking at vaccination rates, positivity rates, and reviewing the vaccine frequently asked questions to better assist people, as the COVID-19 vaccine rumor mill is out of control. This data was converted into social media posts to promote the vaccine and notify people on how to find one in their community. This continued throughout the spring as more vaccines became available and more Marylanders became eligible for them. As a result of our vaccination rates, a majority of the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, including the mask mandate, and it appeared that we were pretty much back to normal.
When the 180 on mask guidelines was announced, that was the day that months of hard work and strategizing went up in flames, and the CDC and the Biden Administration were pouring gasoline on the fire. That fire only increased when the Biden Administration announced their proposed OSHA regulations, which are being challenged in court. After these new mask guidelines were announced, liberal county and municipal leaders began reinstating mask mandates in Maryland and nationwide. Telling fully vaccinated people that they have to wear masks to combat a variant that they are already protected from not only makes no sense, but it is also not going to encourage unvaccinated people to get the vaccine. House Republican Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), who happens to be a doctor and has been administering vaccines in her home state of Iowa, said it best:
We’ve come a long way since March 2020 when everything began to shut down, but we’re not out of the woods yet, and it’s sad that the very concept of getting vaccinated has become so political for both sides. Here’s what they’re getting wrong about this vaccine.
According to CDC data, the FDA-Approved Pfizer-BioNTech (COMIRNATY) vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing serious COVID-19 infection. The Moderna vaccine is 94.1 percent effective at preventing a serious COVID-19 infection, and the Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccine is 85 percent effective at preventing serious COVID-19 infection. The bottom line from these stats is, if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, then you are protected from serious illness and/or death. You are protected from the worst part of this disease. To quote Governor Ron DeSantis, "If you get a vaccine ... you're immune. So act immune." There is no reason for liberal politicians to be enforcing mask mandates for vaccinated individuals or in areas with decent vaccination rates, and no reason to require children to wear masks in schools because we prioritized the vaccination of teachers. That sort of behavior does not scream “get vaccinated.” There seems to be a group of lawmakers and bureaucrats who cannot accept the fact that thanks to vaccines, we have the ability to return to pre-pandemic times and move on with our lives.
Make sure to remember this when it comes time to vote and before Election Day, volunteer for candidates in your community by knocking on doors and making phone calls. Even for local elections, because county and municipal leaders select the health officers who often make these calls.
My fellow Republicans, we need to remain vigilant as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes telling people to get vaccinated, because the vaccine is tested, safe, effective, and free. If a GOP elected official or organization is talking about the vaccine and the language they are using does not include the words “safe,” “effective,” “free,” “life-saving,” “pandemic-ending,” or “get vaccinated,” then you should seriously consider seeking a second opinion. It is easy to be both pro-vaccine and anti-unconstitutional mandate. COVID-19 variants can spread and cause havoc in states nationwide, but thanks to the leadership shown in Maryland, and vaccines, we were able to weather the surge. I have seen numerous Republican candidates and officials in Maryland and nationwide, particularly Republican women, post about the importance of being vaccinated and commend them for it.
Republican lawmakers and community leaders should not be ostracized or shunned by the base for encouraging the vaccine, and that includes the former President who launched Operation Warp Speed, who was booed at a rally a few months ago for suggesting it. This isn’t a good look as the party aims to reclaim control of Congress in 2022.
I could go on and on about Biden Administration has been terrible when it comes to marketing this vaccine because they had people who were fully vaccinated proudly talking about how they still double-masked and avoided restaurants and large gatherings. From the beginning, the messaging should have been centered around how vaccinations are the fastest way to get to a future without masks and restrictions. We can’t go back and correct the past, but we can shift our focus to the future when it comes to encouraging people to be vaccinated. Turn your frustrations about what has happened so far into energy for getting out the vote in 2022.
I am pro-vaccine because I hate wearing masks and do not wear them unless required by law. I also got vaccinated because I enjoy eating in restaurants, going to large political events, and traveling. I also enjoy going door-to-door for candidates during election years and not having to wear a mask, knock on the door, stick the bag of literature on their doorknob, and step back ten feet just to talk to a swing voter (I called this ‘contactless canvassing’). In addition, I had COVID-19 and so did my mom, who wound up in the emergency room because of it. We’ve both recovered and got vaccinated as soon as we could, but sadly over 10,000 Marylanders and over 700,000 Americans did not have the chance to.
We are so close to 90 percent of Marylanders having received at least one dose of the vaccine, and we remain one of the most vaccinated states in the nation. Emergency Use Authorization is finally here for Americans under the age of 12 so they can get vaccinated. We have not one, not two, but three safe and effective vaccines so there is no reason to be going back to early-pandemic protocols. We’ve made it this far, and are on the home stretch, so let’s keep at it.