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Rural vaccine reluctance

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This is actually quite an interesting article, showing how fatalism and atomism are discouraging people from taking the COVID vaccine in rural Appalachia:

He scoffs at the perception that people here are vaccine-hesitant simply because they, like him, are Republicans.

“That doesn’t make sense to me,” he said. “Trump brought the vaccine in.” If this was about political affiliation, he continued, “you’d jump and take it!” Instead, he said, people think the vaccine is too entwined with politics.

In Appalachia, Mr. Cross explained, the fervor with which people sidestep the vaccine is ratcheted up by history and tradition. For centuries, Scots-Irish settlers tucked into the mountains to evade army conscription and tax collectors.

Jeremy Faison, a longtime Republican state representative who grew up in the area, agrees: “Throughout the pandemic, there are a lot of us who are like, ‘It’s a serious situation but me and my family can take care of ourselves.’ ”

Mr. Faison, a libertarian and an evangelical Christian, added, “So we take exception with the government putting mandates on us, pressuring us to do something.”

That view is bolstered by a religious, near-joyous fatalism. People say that if they haven’t caught Covid a year into the pandemic, they will take their chances. True, they might get Covid and die. But either way, a win-win: longer life on Earth or, for the faithful, eternal life in Heaven.

“There’s a time appointed for every person to die,” said Reuben Smucker, a Mennonite pastor in Greeneville who works as a garage-door installer. “We should take care of our bodies physically, emotionally and spiritually, but if it’s my time to go and it’s by Covid, well then, it’s my time to go.”

There are no easy answers here, although the article suggests that trusted local doctors probably have the best chance of persuading people. It’s going to be a difficult task.

I’m also reminded of seeing a CNN segment in which an interviewer told people in rural Oklahmoa that Trump was endorsing the vaccine, and they scoffed, observing that while he was the best of the available options…he was from New York City, after all.

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