This commentary is by Tom Evslin of Stowe, an entrepreneur, author and former Douglas administration official. It is republished from the Fractals of Change blog.
The US government talks the talk about Covid vaccination but doesn’t walk the walk. The CDC and the FDA say “get vaccinated” but they don’t act as if they really believe in the efficacy of the shots.
You couldn’t be more pro-Covid vaccination than me. I stayed up all night to make sure I could register for my shot the moment the Vermont computer would let me. After having both doses and waiting our two weeks, Mary and I joyfully broke our self-imposed quarantine and went on a six-week RV trip to get reacquainted with relatives and friends and then flew to Italy to meet our newest granddaughter.
Italy let us in without quarantine because we had vaccine certificates; they would also have let us in if we had negative Covid tests within 48 hours of our arrival. The US government didn’t care about our vaccinated status; instead they insisted on Covid tests three days before departure, which is a much less reliable indication of whether we were likely to bring the virus home. Italy’s actions encourage vaccination; the US doesn’t seem to think it’s important.
Canada says it is ready to let US citizens drive into their country with proof of vaccination. The US is neither wiling to reciprocate nor has it said that US citizens can use their vaccination status to drive home again. Canada is encouraging vaccination; the US doesn’t seem to think it’s important.
Colleges around the country including Vermont are requiring vaccination as a condition of returning in the fall. Good for them. But there isn’t even a US advisory which says that state and hospitals should make vaccination compulsory for health care workers.
It was entirely appropriate for the FDA to give “emergency approval” of the Covid vaccines when they did. It is, however, totally inappropriate that the vaccines have not now received final approval and that we have also not been told what the FDA is waiting for. Lack of final approval is an excuse – and not actually an unreasonable one – for people not to get vaccinated. Lack of information about what is required for final approval is a great way to stoke conspiracy theories. If Dr. Fauci and President Biden believe approval will come before the end of August as they have both said, they need to tell us why there isn’t final approval now. I suspect the reasons are bureaucratic but that’s no excuse for undermining public confidence in both the vaccines and the approval process.
According to the NYTimes, “In France, as of Aug. 1, anyone without a “health pass” showing they have been vaccinated or recently tested negative will not be admitted to restaurants, cafes or movie theaters, and they will not be able to travel long distances by train…”
More than 2.2 million people signed up to get vaccinated in the first 48 hours after French President Macron made this announcement. Note he is not saying vaccination is mandatory; French people who don’t want to get vaccinated but do want to travel or eat out, just need to get the very frequent Covid tests necessary to protect others from them. But he did say the tests will not remain free. Fair enough.
Instead of acting as if vaccinations matter, the US government spends its efforts trying to ban “bad information.” The way to stop bad information is to provide good information. The way to strengthen conspiracy theories is trying to ban any sort of speech.
Accelerating infections from the Delta variant are now causing some Americans to rethink their opposition to vaccination. A federal government which acts as if it thinks vaccination matters instead of just talking can still assure us a practical if not absolute end to the pandemic by fall.