Will FDA approval change the opinion of vaccine skeptics in the United States?



Bottles with Pfizer logo displayed, October 31, 2020. / Reuters

Vials with a Pfizer logo displayed, October 31, 2020. / Reuters

Editor’s Note: Bradley Blankenship is an American journalist, political analyst and independent reporter based in Prague. The article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of CGTN.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first COVID-19 vaccine on August 23, known as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The two-shot vaccine will be fully licensed for use for the prevention of COVID-19 in people 16 years of age and older while maintaining emergency use for people 12 to 15 years of age and for a third dose in some people who are immunocompromised.

According to Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, who was quoted by the agency in a press release, vaccine approval is a major milestone in the pandemic and it could help gain the trust of some who had expected to receive the vaccine. .

While approval of the vaccine will certainly boost vaccination further, a nod from the FDA is by no means a silver bullet to the widespread anti-intellectualism and general polarization that is rampant in the country, as well as the fact. that it is also one of the natural consequences of massive divestments in social programs such as education and health care.

Certainly, since the federal government, some state and local governments, as well as many employers began to force the vaccine on their employees, the approval of the Pfizer vaccine by the FDA will remove a major argument from vaccine skeptics that this vaccine had been technically unapproved.

The argument that workers were forced to take an “experimental” vaccine to do their jobs has all but evaporated as a result, only emboldening employers in their decision to demand vaccination.

However, for a significant number of unvaccinated people, logical arguments will make no difference in whether or not they choose to be vaccinated. That is, as a truism says, if someone hasn’t used logic to come to a conclusion, then they won’t use logic to change that conclusion.

To be clear, much of this so-called “anti-vaxx” mob is hopelessly illogical, ideologically motivated, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, enjoys cross-political support from other extreme ideologies almost exclusively on the far right of the government. political spectrum. This is essentially the same group that, since the start of the pandemic, has opposed public health measures approved by medical experts, such as mask wearing and social distancing.

Countless viral social media posts filled with vaccination misinformation are steeped in renegade far-right individualistic ideology, drawing on buzzwords such as’ personal choice ‘,’ freedom ‘and’ freedom ”while conveniently omitting the fact that the so-called choices (which have nothing of the sort) during a global pandemic have serious and potentially fatal consequences for society.

Of course, not everyone can be strictly grouped into this category. There is a very serious argument to be made that one of the main reasons some people trust others who spread vaccine misinformation on social media (the so-called “Facebook doctors”) is that millions of Americans do not have access to a doctor.

Either they do not have health care, cannot afford to go to the doctor even with their health care, or do not have time to go to their doctor. And it begs the question of how anyone can expect some Americans to make informed medical decisions when they actually don’t have access to an expert. This is a serious problem and it only underscores why the country needs a systemic change on this issue, namely a universal health care program.

There is also the argument that mistrust of experts is a consequence of the country’s disinvestment in education, which has resulted in inferior quality of education and virtually insurmountable costs to attain higher education. One wonders how many Americans who haven’t even learned science at an adequate level are supposed to understand it at a time of great importance.

Either way, whether a skeptical vaccine is an ideological anti-vaccine or simply ignoring the facts for whatever reason, it has become such a problem for the United States – a problem that is leading to a new resurgence of infections and deaths – exposes deep systemic loopholes in the country.

Yes, FDA approval will lead to more vaccinations and support vaccination mandates by employers, but the unfortunate polarization around vaccines (and in general) is going nowhere.

(If you would like to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)


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