Op-Ed: Threats and Guilt Trips Never Accomplished Anything

The Messaging Problem Around the COVID-19 Vaccine

Threatening and guilting people into getting the COVID-19 vaccine is not the way to get people vaccinated.
Yet, some media personalities and politicians did not get the memo.

“Part of the metric here is ignorance, but part of it is also arrogance. This misplaced sense of righteous indignation and resistance that they believe is a false manifestation of freedom,” said CNN anchor, Chris Cuomo.

Yes, a lot of people are ignorant. A lot of people are arrogant. Anti-vaxxers do exist. Unfortunately, some people are deciding whether to get the vaccine simply based on their political affiliation.

I am not speaking for any of those people. I do not agree with any of those people.

“What is the problem? Get over it. Get over this political statement. Just get over it and try and save the lives of yourself and your family,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, said.

The problem with Fauci’s argument is that there is a group of people he and Cuomo ignore.

That is the group of people who looked at the medical history, read the available information, consulted their doctor and decided that based on that information they did not want to get any of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The people in this group are either not fully vaccinated yet because they have not finished researching the vaccines and consulting their health care team, or because even after they finished that process something in their medical history made them decide against getting vaccinated.

Yet if someone says, “I haven’t decided. I’d like to speak with my doctor first,” in response to the question “Are you getting vaccinated?” or “Have you gotten vaccinated?” it sometimes elicits dirty looks or uncomfortable silence from the questioner.

What happened to informed consent?

What happened to the idea that people who can get vaccinated should get vaccinated so we can reach herd immunity and protect those who cannot get vaccinated?

Even if herd immunity to protect the vulnerable is the goal of this messaging, the threatening, blaming and guilt tripping of all unvaccinated individuals without distinction is not accomplishing that goal.

“All these people are saying, ‘I don’t want to put this stuff in my body,’ they’re out drinking on the weekend and putting other substances in their body that’s way worse for them than a vaccine so come on, let’s be real.” Don Lemon, CNN anchor, said.

The issue with that argument is cigarettes, alcohol and other harmful substances, at least legally regulated ones, come with warning labels so consumers can choose to ignore the label on the pack of cigarettes or the commercial for cigarettes, but at least they have all the necessary information.

However, if someone waits to get vaccinated until they can gather all the necessary information and make a decision, some media outlets and government officials view them any differently from the people basing their decision not to vaccinate on misinformed ignorance, arrogance or political affiliation.

In the case of COVID-19 vaccination, some media outlets and government officials aren’t saying, “Go talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should get the vaccine.” They’re saying, “Get the vaccine!”

Sometimes, that exclamation comes with threats or name-calling as well, in the case of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio banning all unvaccinated from participating in society with his new requirement that proof of vaccination is required at many indoor settings.

People should talk to their healthcare providers about getting vaccinated, and they should get vaccinated if they and their health care provider decide that is the best decision for them.

“To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines, visit Georgia Southern’s COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution, read COVID-19 Vaccine Virtual Town Hall, or watch COVID Vaccines Unmasked: Questions and Answers from an Immunologist.

The above paragraph is often at the end of vaccine clinic articles and other COVID-19 related articles because informed consent is important. We want students to have all the necessary information on the vaccine before they get vaccinated.

No one should make the decision to get vaccinated just because the television host on the nightly news or a government official told them too.

Government officials and media personalities need to learn that not only will people not take medical advice from them, but the more someone is told to do something or threatened if they do not do that thing, the less they will want to do it.