As vaccines become more and more available across the country, the challenge of getting past this panny may hinge on convincing white evangelicals to take a dose for the common good.
But first, the good news.
President Joe Biden is slated to announce on Tuesday that everyone across the U.S. will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, starting April 19. CNN first reported the news of Biden’s expected announcement.
It marks a move up from the goal of May 1 that the president previously set, amid his administration’s successful efforts to sharply increase the doses of coronavirus vaccines making its way to distribution sites across the country.
On Tuesday, the President is scheduled to visit a vaccination site in Alexandria, Virginia, and then give remarks on the state of vaccinations from the White House. That’s when he is expected to say that 150 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered within his first 75 days in office, in line with a stated goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office.
Biden will tout how the US reported more than 4 million doses of coronavirus vaccine administered in a single 24-hour period last weekend.
As other nations clamor for more shots, including from the US, Biden also plans to say Tuesday that the US is the first country to administer 150 million shots. According to Our World in Data, the US had administered more than 165 million doses as of Monday night, with China in second having administered a little less than 140 million shots.
Since I am one of what seems to be the increasingly small number of people in America who haven’t received at least one dose of the Rona vaccine (how in the world are those appointments going so quickly?), I welcome this announcement that indicates the end point for this very long pandemic may be inching ever closer.
But, that depends—as it has from the very beginning—on the willingness of the American population to work together, to care about each other’s well-being and at the very least to believe in the veracity of science over random screeds they read in their Facebook feeds.
Reaching those benchmarks may be a problem, according to a new report from the New York Times on white evangelicals’ reluctance to take the vaccines. Despite the many concerns that have been expressed about Black people’s unwillingness to get protective doses against COVID-19, which has turned out to be less of a problem as Black people’s inability to access doses as easily as other groups, it appears white evangelicals pose the biggest barrier to achieving any kind of herd immunity in America.
From the NYT:
There are about 41 million white evangelical adults in the U.S. About 45 percent said in late February that they would not get vaccinated against Covid-19, making them among the least likely demographic groups to do so, according to the Pew Research Center.
“If we can’t get a significant number of white evangelicals to come around on this, the pandemic is going to last much longer than it needs to,” said Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois.
As vaccines become more widely available, and as worrisome virus variants develop, the problem takes on new urgency. Significant numbers of Americans generally are resistant to getting vaccinated, but white evangelicals present unique challenges because of their complex web of moral, medical, and political objections. The challenge is further complicated by longstanding distrust between evangelicals and the scientific community.
The reasons behind this group’s hangups? A mix of conspiracy theories somehow tying the vaccines to abortion as well as notions that taking advantage of modern medicine somehow undermines God.
I don’t know how we overcome the eagerness to believe in misinformation, which has spread like an epidemic of its own across the American population.