On the Covid Vaccine, Self-Interest Will Win Out

Evidence of millions of early results should settle it.

With two highly-effective vaccines now being distributed across the country, the biggest hurdle in the fight against Covid-19 remains what it has always been: the legions of naysayers who won’t wear masks, don’t social distance, and, so far, insist they don’t trust, need, or intend to receive the vaccine.

In the midst of a raging pandemic, it shouldn’t be this hard to sell the American public on a life-saving remedy. And, indeed, it probably won’t be.

Even before the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved, public support and acceptance of a hypothetical vaccine of reasonable efficacy was slowly climbing. In September, almost half of Americans said they wouldn’t get vaccinated; By late November, roughly 60 percent were ready and eager to take the vaccine and put their portion of this national nightmare behind them.

Now, the vaccine is real, and as it is distributed to millions of health care workers, nursing home staff and residents, and other vulnerable populations, more information on efficacy and side effects will be gathered and revealed. Assuming the former to be high and the latter tolerable, as promised, the evidence of the vaccine’s benefits will grow weekly.

Despite some inevitable doubters, most people will come around, rather easily I suspect, to accept the overwhelming evidence of benefit to both themselves and their loved ones, as well as all their neighbors.

In the meanwhile, if vaccinations continue apace and much of the population at large continues to wear masks and remain socially distant, the virus will begin to slow and slacken its miserable hold on our lives.

Of course, there may be a possibility that the record pace at which the current vaccines were developed, tested and rolled out has masked other unseen but real problems. That would be a disaster – the doubters would say ‘I told you so’ and public confidence would be severely undermined. Like so much else with this pandemic, it is clear our best approach is to stick with the (non-political) scientists unless proven wrong. So far, science shows that the vaccines are both safe and effective.

Therefore, we should move with all due haste to vaccinate as large a chunk of the population as accept it, and not worry, for now, about the rest.

Our goal should be to protect as many people as practically possible, and as quickly as possible. The others will come around, in due course, though some holdouts will undoubtedly insist on their right to try to prove Darwin correct.

Either way, it’s now likely that the vaccine and reasonable adherence to reasonable health guidelines will carry us to the finish line satisfactorily, probably in the latter part of 2021.

Then the economy can get back on track so life can return to something resembling normal, though likely very different, from what came before.

And, one hopes, we will know what to do when the next virus comes.


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