In last night’s debate, Senator Kamala Harris was pushing the familiar anti-vaccine narrative when she said, “If Donald Trump tells us we should take [the Covid-19 vaccine], I’m not going to take it.”
In fairness, Harris did say she would take it if Dr. Fauci and other doctors told her to take it, but it’s clear Harris is now employing a type of political litmus test before she makes vaccine decisions.
That’s certainly a problem but what’s worse is that she’s pushing a conspiracy theory that suggests a vaccine developed by public health scientists at the FDA, HHS and CDC—all of whom officially work in the Trump administration (yet don’t necessarily support the president politically)—aren’t trustworthy. She’s actually calling into question the work, ethics, and professionalism of these public health officials and suggesting that because they work for President Trump, citizens should doubt the vaccine’s safety.
Senator Harris isn’t alone in becoming a Trump-specific anti-vaccine advocate. Elon Musk, Madonna, and many other celebrities have publicly suggested the Covid-19 vaccine won’t be safe. Of course, legitimate concern and general skepticism about vaccines isn’t necessarily bad, but in the case of Senator Harris and these celebrities, their concern stems from what they see as a nefarious Trump and his evil plan to harm Americans. It’s the stuff of superhero and supervillian movies!
Speaking to The Guardian last month, Dr. Paul Offit, co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, (who was a recent guest on The Bespoke Parenting Hour), said “Celebrities have a platform and when they abuse it it’s incredibly irresponsible. They influence people. Science doesn’t win out, the facts don’t win out. Emotion trumps scientific evidence every time.” Emily Toth Martin, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health told Business Insider why this vaccine is so important, saying “A safe, effective vaccine is the only way to safely build herd immunity to this virus now.”
Sadly, the pubic isn’t hearing this. Instead, polls conducted in the summer showed significant concerns with the vaccine. And in the most recent polling, a massive two-thirds of voters said they wouldn’t get the vaccine when it becomes available, and one in four say they don’t want to ever get it.
Black Americans – a demographic that has a far greater number of both positive cases and deaths associated with coronavirus – are now even less likely to get the vaccine. According to one recent poll, 58 percent of black respondents said they wouldn’t take a COVID-19 vaccination when it’s available and 22 percent reported they would take the vaccine, but had “concerns”.
One of the most important roles of both the President and Vice President is to reassure the American public and to ensure their safety in the best way possible. Harris’s anti-vaccine statements are a failure on both fronts.