Pollster Frank Luntz conduced a focus group with twenty vaccine-hesitant conservatives to discuss their fears about the coronavirus vaccine. Polls have shown that Trump supporters are among those least likely to take the COVID vaccine and Luntz wanted to figure out why. The results from the focus group were deeply concerning, with many of the participants echoing bogus reasons for not getting the shot. Some said they had more fears about the COVID vaccine than they did about catching COVID itself. Others pointed out that the development was too “rushed” or that the vaccines aren’t safe or efficacious.
Ultimately, much of the group’s vaccine skepticism went back to politics. Right-wing skepticism over the severity of coronavirus is now affecting the vaccine rollout. One participant in the focus group said, “if you really want us to trust the science, I think politics has to be taken out of it.” It is Trump and his allies on the right who made the virus political. It did not help that the former president took his shots in private and still refuses to give a full-throated recommendation for his supporters to get immunized. In other developed countries, matters of science like disease are not political. But in the United States, our level of discourse has been dumbed down to the point where people view things like vaccines and the severity of COVID-19 as up for debate and a left/right issue.
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