What is the Goal of Vaccine Discourse?

Eric Medlin

Eric Medlin

History instructor. Writer. Rising star in the world of affordable housing.

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67 Responses

  1. Avatar Pinky
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    I remember reading an article by someone who worked on annual cause of death statistics for a few years. He said he went mildly insane during that time, because he knew how everything in his line of sight could kill you. The experts are thinking that way when they talk about variants of the virus. Of course it’s true that variants of coronavirus could be far deadlier and uncontrollable; but that’s true about variants of anything. They need to get on-message: enough people get the vaccine and we’re done. Get the vaccine sooner and we’re done sooner.Report

  2. Avatar Damon
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    Well, given I’ve doing doing full contact martial arts for over 9 months, and I’m technically at high risk for catching this bug, I’m curious on how to square that “science”. Maybe I’m an outlier. I will say that I think that our stats in the US are higher because American’s are sicker that most other countries. Greater rates of diabetes, etc.

    I don’t listen, generally to pundits, especially those who don’t have the credentials. I also stopped listening to Fauci when he admitted he lied to the US populace. He doesn’t get redemption or credibility anymore…ever. Recent studies have suggested that masks don’t work, published in well known journals, but I expect it’ll be a few years for all the “facts” become final and confirmed and we find out what really happened and what works.

    So I’m not getting a vaccine any time soon. I’ll wait and see the results of the first batches of “test subjects” over the next several months. Some folks I know, who deal with this sorta stuff, say the second shot causes a massive immune reaction and you feel like crap for a few days. I’ll pass on that for now. When I’m looking to go on vacation, I’ll revisit the issue.Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to Damon
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      Are you referring to the Danish study that followed 5,000 people for a month, less than 100 of whom got the virus, the results of which were “statistically compatible with an effect ranging from a 46% decrease to a 23% increase in infection”?

      As for squaring your experience with the science, you’re one person. No one’s said that proper hygiene will guarantee safety, or that improper hygiene will guarantee illness. There’s a lot of randomness involved. But barring convincing scientific evidence, I’d have to say you’re acting in a way that, to some extent, increases the danger for others.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Pinky
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        I’d have to look it up as I don’t recall. As to my situation, I never argued that my opinion on getting a vaccine is the decision others should take. My decision is that….mine. Your mileage may vary. I will not force you to take any action. I expect the same.

        And if I’m acting in a way that “increases the danger to others”, then I refer you to the 30 people is class today that all are doing the same thing.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Damon
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      I’m more interested in “squaring” how you’re a karate-man badass whose kung-fu is too strong for the Wuhan Flu and yet you’re scared of feeling like crap for a few days.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to DensityDuck
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        There is no “squaring”. I can get the vaccine and endure the reaction, or get a better vaccine later (assuming that one has a lower or no reaction) or not get it at all and rely on heard immunity. The point about the martial arts is that I’ve been, for over nine months, in direct physical contact with many people, of all ages, and no one has come down with the bug.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Damon
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          The problem is if too many people do what you do, we don’t get to herd immunity. Herd immunity requires the herd. If you don’t have a medical reason to avoid the vaccine, it is remarkably selfish of you to avoid getting it. Full stop.

          There is a potential cost to the vaccine, namely in the form of short-term side-effects. Nothing is free. If we want to get back to normal, we need to get as many people vaccinated as possible and we need those folks to accept the cost of doing so.

          You want to get back to normal but you don’t want to pay the cost. You want others to.Report

          • Avatar Philip H in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            You want to get back to normal but you don’t want to pay the cost. You want others to.

            That’s conservative libertarianism in a nutshell.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Philip H
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              I don’t want to paint with broad strokes. While everything related to the pandemic has been politicized, that politicization has often resulted in strange bedfellows. I would personally say that anyone who’s mindset is, “I’ll let others do the work of getting us to herd immunity and wait until I feel better about getting the vaccine myself,” is being selfish, regardless of their political bent.

              The same thing is true of anti-vaxxers of other stripes, most of whom come from the left.Report

              • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Kazzy
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                I’ll just say my feelings about fellow humanity are about 80% more sour as a result of the pandemic, and more than once I’ve gone “go back out into the world? Why would I want to?”

                I got vaccinated when I could, despite being apprehensive for myself (I have weird allergies and indeed, I came down with raging hives on top of the flu-like reaction that is typical)

                but at least now I won’t need to concern myself over “how many unmasked people might be in this store” when I need to buy groceriesReport

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy
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                That last part used to be true, but my understanding is that nowadays it’s more of a right-wing thing. I haven’t seen any good recent data, though.Report

            • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Philip H
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              In contrast to Democratic Socialism where you force people to pay taxes for the path dependencies of 19 century thinking.

              You guys just don’t really see any reflection in the mirror when you type this stuff out.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to JoeSal
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                You want libraries? That’s a 19th century way of thinking that costs money. Police are a 19th century way of thinking that costs money. The courts are a 19th century way of thinking that costs money. So yeah, we do expect people to pay for the services they demand from a thing they call government.

                I get that you don’t want to pay f r that stuff, but there is stuff you want, stuff you use, and stuff that benefits you that needs to be paid for. That’s basic economics in human societies. Tough to get around bro.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Philip H
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                The difference is…. if i want something i will pay for it.

                I know yall are terrible at the economic realization of subjective value, but that’s yalls blind spot and not mine.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Philip H
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              says:

              As someone who was rooting for the candidate whose platform was “I will give you so much free stuff and make those bastards pay for it,” you shouldn’t be so quick to point fingers.

              I’m getting my vaccine first chance I get, for the record. Looks like it’s going to be a while, though.Report

          • Avatar Damon in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            “it is remarkably selfish of you to avoid getting it. Full stop.”

            Yep it is. In my state, however, I’m not yet eligible to get the vaccine, so it’s kinda moot ATM.

            “conservative libertarianism ” Actually, I slide along the liberal and anarchist libertarian line depending upon the issue, but I don’t expect others to bother understanding my politics. Labels are easier.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Damon
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          “I can get the vaccine and endure the reaction”

          So do that.

          “but I don’t want a reaction!”

          ur a wimp lolReport

          • Avatar Damon in reply to DensityDuck
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            No, not a wimp. I prioritize earning money/having fun over being sick. The first two vaccines came out and require 2 shots each. Now the J&J one is out requiring only 1 shot. Odds are, there’ll be gradual improvements in the vaccine to reduce “after effects”. Why would I rush out as soon as I’m able to get one that will be replaced in 3 months or 6 months? It’ll be months before I’m even eligible to get a vaccine. Might as well wait a bit longer and get a shot that doesn’t make me sick..Report

  3. Avatar Michael Cain
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    I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine this morning, second dose scheduled for four weeks. The final personal deciding factor for me is the growing body of evidence that from about two weeks after the first dose, you may still catch the virus, but it doesn’t put you in the hospital or kill you. It would be nice if that same evidence said you don’t get “long Covid” either, but it will take more time for that to show up (if it does).Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy
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    I got dose #2 of Pfizer today. I qualify in NY as a teacher/child care provider. I live in NJ and NJ has not approved teachers to receive the vaccine in-state until March 15th.

    I was initially hesitant to get vaccinated for the sole reason that I am not CURRENTLY working in a school, having taken leave to support my own children with their remote learning and likely won’t return to regular work until next fall. With vaccines in short supply, I didn’t want to take doses from other folks who were bearing the risks that made my “class” eligible to begin with. However, as more doses became available and appointments became easier to come by and I read more medical ethicists and other experts who had a pretty clear message of, “If you are eligible for the vaccine, get the vaccine,” I made an appointment as soon as I could.

    The more people we get vaccinated sooner, the better everything is for everyone. Fewer people sick. Fewer people dead. And more normalcy faster. I don’t understand why so many folks in such influential positions don’t seem to understand that. Fauci saying we MAY be wearing masks in 2022? Well, yea. We may also be invaded by Martians then. But what the hell does that have to do with anything? All that did was encourage people NOT to get the vaccine, because if taking a couple needles in the arm doesn’t make anything better, why bother?

    I have strong suspicion that I have some natural immunity or resistance to the thing, plus I am basically as low risk as it gets among adults. I have some exposure risk due to three kids being in school, my girlfriend working in a school, and the boys’ mother working full time in a health care setting (primarily office work but still). But I still had more than enough “reason” to wait. But no one should wait. Again, the more shots we get into more arms, the better. Full stop. That needs to be the message.Report

  5. Avatar PD Shaw
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    says:

    In Peoria, IL, as of today, 85.74% of those 65 and over have received their first dose. So the vaccine plays in Peoria. The national media is doing an awful job and deserve to be scoriated, but most people aren’t paying attention to them.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird
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    According to current info, we are 13 days away from Colorado moving up to the phase where my household happens to reside (Team Obesity!) and I’m just counting the minutes thinking “you just know if I’m going to get it, I’m going to get it in the final stretch”.

    Two weeks to get the first shot (assuming I can get stuck on Day One).
    Two weeks after the first shot to get the second shot (assuming I can get stuck on Day Fifteen).
    Two weeks for the stuff to kick in.

    I know that this is a major victory for Big Pharma and they’ve pulled off what was openly claimed to be impossible a year ago. Hell, 9 months ago.

    But it also feels like “Six Weeks To Slow The Spread”.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
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      “…Team Obesity!…”

      A friend of mine who also lives in NJ and works in finance shared that he would be getting his vaccine this week.
      “Dude, how? Teachers aren’t even eligible until next week.”
      “Ex-smoker who has an obese BMI,” he replied.
      I responded the only way that felt right given this obvious perversion of equity: “Does this mean you’re legally fat now?”
      So maybe he’ll be spared from this potentially deadly disease and resolve much of the anxiety that has plagued him for the past year… but now he’ll always be legally fat to me. Is it worth it, punk? Is it?Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq
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    The message of vaccine discourse is that the sooner everybody takes their vaccine, the faster we can get back to normal. The problem is that public health officials can’t give this message because they are prone to be small c-conservative in all their statements. A culture war has also developed among some Americans between the Covid dick waivers and the people who are treating being super serious about Covid as a sign of virtue. The later won’t go along with a let us get back to normal venture because it is unserious.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to LeeEsq
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      The problem is that public health officials can’t give this message because they are prone to be small c-conservative in all their statements.

      Well . . . not so much. All scientists – including public health professionals – are trained to NOT speak in absolutes, because we generally can’t know the absolute truth until after the fact. You don’t get published in peer reviewed literature speaking in absolutes. You don’t get tenure speaking in absolutes. Its not how science works, because we do know, procedurally, as soon as you speak in absolutes someone will publish different data in your model refuting your conclusions. Remember Cold Fusion?Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        Sometimes, the correct course of action is to not speak in absolutes by not speaking.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
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          Have you ever met a scientists who refuses to answer a question?

          The scientists do need help communicating – in fact there’s now a whole profession dedicated to doing so.

          But the public does as well. We don’t teach basic probability anymore, much less in real world ways. Which means that some scientists – against the advice of communications professionals – will speak in absolutes because they know their audience can’t handle the nuance.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Philip H
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            Twitter had a small argument over what “95% effective meant” and half the people arguing thought it meant that if you rolled a 1 on a d20 then you died, and the other half were explaining Diablo II’s magicfind mechanic where if you had a 2% chance to get a magic drop and you got a helm that gave you +20% to magic find, that doesn’t mean that you now have 22% magicfind, but 2.1% magicfind and so the 5% chance really means that if you had a 1 in 100 chance before, then now you have a 1 in 2000 chance and everybody was screaming and nobody understood anything.

            Social Media was a mistake.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
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            says:

            Have you ever met a scientists who refuses to answer a question?

            Smart ones do. Savvy public officials know to only let the smart ones talk.

            We don’t teach basic probability anymore…

            When did we?Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              says:

              I’m not a “scientist” but as a teacher I’m often asked by laypeople to offer definitive answers that I simply cannot offer. I often tell them, “I know this is going to sound frustrating but most of my answers will start with, ‘Well, it depends…’.” And while that sometimes IS frustrating, it is necessary for me to do and in most cases gains the parents respect and ultimately leaves them better positioned then if I responded with faux certainty.

              Though recently we did joke that going forward, we would answer such questions with a confident, “32! Next question…”Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        Yes, but many folks have spoken in absolutes when it was convenient and now avoid speaking in absolutes when that is convenient.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
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          My covid documentary title: “Killing Gramma”.

          It starts with the Tiger King, wanders through the guy wearing a Grim Reaper outfit next to the beach at Memorial Day, shows a bunch of people protesting together in large crowds, shows the Grim Reaper guy standing in front of a bunch of people going to the beach at Labor Day, shows a bunch of people celebrating Biden’s win, has Texas opening up a couple of weeks before Connecticut opens up, and then finishes with gramma getting the shot and dying because she’s allergic to silicon chips.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Philip H
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        I don’t know for sure, but from what I’ve seen most of the messaging comes from political officials and media. The media are interested in drama, so they’re going to play that up. But public officials – their only priority should be national health.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Pinky
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          so “public officials” and “political officials” are the same thing.

          Assuming you meant public health officials – I believe their priority has been national health. Which is why so many of them were sidelined or run off by the last administration. Dr. Faucci went through a several month period where his honesty about what worked at the time and what was known at the time got him shut off from the media by the WH because they didn’t like what he was saying.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Pinky
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          says:

          I had an argument with my siblings about Fauci’s comments on herd immunity, wherein he shifted the “estimate” on when we’d reach it based on polling data of people’s feeling about the vaccine. I argued that he flat out misrepresented the science. They argued that he was doing public advocacy and had to tweak the numbers to encourage people to get vaccinated. Who was right? Well obviously I think I’m right. But that is of less importance. The more important thing this evidenced was that we have blown up the line between the science and the policy.Report

        • Avatar Pinky in reply to Pinky
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          says:

          Philip – That was just a typo on my part. I’m saying that, while many public statements have been made by scientists, many have also been made by the press and elected officials. Your observation about scientists being reluctant to make absolute statements doesn’t explain the problems with the latter two groups.

          Kazzy – Related to the above, yes, you’re definitely right that there’s been a loss of distinction between the scientific voice and the policy voice. There are some positions (like head of HHS) that are bound to be wearing two hats, but the fewer people in that position the better.

          A member of the presidential Council of Economic Advisors once said that the politician can work with the economist much like the lion can lie down with the lamb: you need a large supply of lambs.Report

          • Avatar Philip H in reply to Pinky
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            modern politicians deal in absolutes, no matter what they are actually told or understand. Any federal agency official who has to be confirmed by the Senate is always functioning as a politician no matter their background or training before coming to office.

            The media loves a horse race. They don’t like nuance, especially in a 24/7 news cycle.Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    Interesting development: The NYT had previously been making Covid-related news — including their charts and tracking pages — free to all readers without a subscription or even log in. They appear to have stopped that. Could be a temporary glitch. Could be that they set the “free access” to expire after a year or something and just never extended it. Could be they need the money. Could be for some reason they no longer consider it information of such importance to all that it shouldn’t be behind a paywall. Could be something else. Curious, to me at least.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    There was a fun article in the Jerusalem Post this morning… that has since been edited.

    That’s the original.

    Here’s what it is now. You may click on the link and say “they changed the headline!” but please note the wording of the link itself… it kept the original title.Report

  10. Avatar JoeSal
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    says:

    What ‘right’ is there to impose ‘herd’ anything?Report

  11. Avatar North
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    I’m gonna get the vaccine as soon as it’s available; heck, if I could pay a modest fee to be vaccinated early I’d do that.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to North
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      says:

      Have you considered participating in a trial? I waslooking into it — not because I felt an urgent need to get vaccinated but because I had no scruples about doing so and felt like any action contributing to getting through this was the right one. But the girlfriend ixnayed it… something about not wanting me to die and abandon all the children or something.

      Anyway, there may still be trials going on which likely will get oyou vaccinated faster AND will help others get vaccinated faster. Even if you are placeboed, I believe you get priority status if/when approval is achieved.Report

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