This Variety of Anti-Vax Is Enabled By Wishy-Washy Rhetoric From Pro-Vaccine People

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Photo credit: Screengrab
Photo credit: Screengrab

An important part of the unvaccination process is backfilling your reasons for refusing to get the jab that billions of people have received worldwide with vanishingly rare reports of adverse events. Some people go for the don't-tread-on-me mandate complaints, some go for the more wild-eyed theories of microchips and swollen balls, and others try to use fragments of actual scientific knowledge to undermine the wider body of work. We got a dose of the latter from The View on Tuesday, where guest Jedediah Bila joined the show and offered her explanation for why she is not vaccinated: "The vaccine does not prevent you from getting COVID and does not prevent you from transmitting COVID."

The purpose of the vaccines is to prevent serious illness and death. It's to keep you out of the hospital. But as Craig Spencer, an ER doctor and Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University, laid out in an article in The Atlantic in September, they also make it far less likely you will contract or spread the virus:

To spread the coronavirus, you have to have the coronavirus. And vaccinated people are far less likely to have the coronavirus—period...

Despite concern about waning immunity, vaccines provide the best protection against infection. And if someone isn’t infected, they can’t spread the coronavirus. It’s truly that simple. Additionally, for those instances of a vaccinated person getting a breakthrough case, yes, they can be as infectious as an unvaccinated person. But they are likely contagious for a shorter period of time when compared with the unvaccinated, and they may harbor less infectious virus overall.

...Among the unvaccinated, the virus travels unhindered on a highway with multiple off-ramps and refueling stations. In the vaccinated, it gets lost in a maze of dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs. Every so often, it pieces together an escape route, but in most scenarios, it finds itself cut off, and its journey ends. It can go no further.

So yeah, the vaccines do not 100-percent prevent you from ever getting or spreading the virus. But that isn't the point, and it's also a false binary that misrepresents the situation. Nothing is 100 percent. The virus is never going away. But if everyone would get vaxxed up—which 193 million people in America have ALREADY DONE with INCREDIBLY RARE NEGATIVE EVENTS beyond a day or two of feeling wack—the virus would spread far, far less. The situation would be far better. It already is, no thanks to Bila, who has laid out a borderline hilarious approach: The vaccine doesn't 100 percent prevent me getting COVID. Instead, I'm going to be unvaccinated, all but guaranteeing I someday get COVID. This is another person Free-Thinking themselves into a pretzel.

But Bila is right that CDC Director Rochelle Walensky could be found on the television in August also falling into this false binary.

Yeah, you can still get and spread COVID if you're vaccinated. It's just significantly less likely! Which seems like something worth mentioning, unless your primary aim when getting on TV is to scare people and flatten the distinctions as part of the justification for reinstating a mask mandate for the vaccinated. By all means, if you or a family member are at high risk, you should take all precautions you feel are necessary. It doesn't hurt any of us to wear a mask on public transportation or in shops where at-risk people will be. But this wishy-washy stuff about the vaccines is only muddying the waters in a way that makes bullshit like Bila's more effective. "Get vaccinated, but you can maybe still get the virus, and your life might not change that much..." is terrible messaging for the vaccination drive and fails to convey the whole truth. Here's a better approach: get vaxxed and move on with your life.

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