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This is why we can’t have nice things

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Like a pandemic-free life:

“The Army tells me what, how and when to do almost everything,” said Sgt. Tracey Carroll, who is based at Fort Sill, an Army post in Oklahoma. “They finally asked me to do something and I actually have a choice, so I said no.”

Sergeant Carroll, 24, represents a broad swath of members of the military — a largely young, healthy set of Americans from every corner of the nation — who are declining to get the shot, which for now is optional among personnel. They cite an array of political and health-related concerns.

But this reluctance among younger troops is a warning to civilian health officials about the potential hole in the broad-scale immunity that medical professionals say is needed for Americans to reclaim their collective lives.

“At the end of the day, our military is our society,” said Dr. Michael S. Weiner, the former chief medical officer for the Defense Department, who now serves in the same role for Maximus, a government contractor and technology company. “They have the same social media, the same families, the same issues that society at large has.”

Roughly one-third of troops on active duty or in the National Guard have declined to take the vaccine, military officials recently told Congress. In some places, such as Fort Bragg, N.C., the nation’s largest military installation, acceptance rates are below 50 percent.

Now what could possibly explain this?

For many troops, the reluctance reflects the concerns of civilians who have said in various public health polls that they will not take the vaccine. Many worry the vaccines are unsafe or were developed too quickly

Some of the concerns stem from misinformation that has run rampant on Facebook and other social media, including the false rumor that the vaccine contains a microchip devised to monitor recipients, that it will permanently disable the body’s immune system or that it is some form of government control.

In some ways, vaccines are the new masks: a preventive measure against the virus that has been politicized.

The scary thing here is the vaccines aren’t even available yet to the general public. As I speculated yesterday, we’re likely to end up in a situation where we can’t actually develop herd immunity for years, because of Mark Zuckerberg and friends. So we could easily end up with tens of thousands of COVID deaths every year for quite awhile going forward, despite the availability of vaccines that are apparently close to 100% effective in preventing serious illness from the virus.

Now I realize one response to this is to say who cares about those people anyway, but even from a purely self-interested perspective it would be much better for all of us if the virus was stamped out, rather than continuing to circulate because pig-ignorant conspiratorial anti-vaxxer nonsense keeps circulating in the cesspool that is social media. ETA: As commenters are pointing out, the longer the virus stays in circulation, the higher the risk of the development of vaccine-resistant strains.

And for my part I actually do feel badly for people who are going to die because Mark Zuckerberg et. al. need a few billion more dollars for their bank accounts.

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