Washington (AP) – Kay Ivey looks very upset. The 76-year-old Republican is the governor of the US state of Alabama. “It’s time to blame the unvaccinated people,” she grumbles. “It’s the unvaccinated people that let us down.”
Actually, she says to the cameras, people should have common sense. Your state of Alabama is at the bottom when it comes to vaccinating against corona. And he is one of the countries currently hit hard again by the pandemic.
In the US there was astonishment at Ivey’s testimony – such drastic words from the mouth of a Republican of all people? Because it seems that the issue of vaccination in the US has now also become a political issue that runs along party lines. The corona situation is getting worse and time is of the essence. “We are at another pivotal moment in this pandemic,” the head of the US health authority CDC, Rochelle Walensky, warned.
In the spring, the US was one of the model students when it comes to vaccination, but a certain vaccination fatigue has now set in. About 49 percent of the total population is now fully vaccinated – Germany now has a similar percentage. At the same time, the number of new corona infections in the US has been increasing again for a few weeks – the delta variant is responsible for this. The situation is particularly tense in countries with low vaccination coverage.
According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the vaccination coverage in the districts where many voted for Biden in the presidential election is significantly higher than where then-President Donald Trump received many votes. Remarkable: If the difference was not so great in the beginning, the gap has grown considerably in recent months. A Washington Post and ABC News poll finds that significantly more Democrat supporters than Republicans have been vaccinated so far.
This phenomenon was particularly impressive a few weeks ago at the CPAC, an event organized by conservative activists. “The government hoped they could somehow get 90 percent of the population vaccinated,” said author Alex Berenson on stage. “And that’s not the case,” he added – the audience responded with applause and cheers. Surveys show that many unvaccinated people estimate the risk of disease to be lower than that of vaccination. Or just don’t trust the US government.
More and more conservatives have long advocated vaccinations. “These syringes need to be in everyone’s arms ASAP,” Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican minority leader, said recently. But there is no united stance among them – many conservatives and especially Trump supporters find it extremely difficult to deal with the issue.
A statement from the top host of conservative TV channel Fox News, Sean Hannity, caused a surprise. He believed in the science of vaccination, he said on his broadcast. A short time later, he emphasized that this was not just another vaccination call for all Americans. Observers see a small change of course at Trump’s former home broadcaster when it comes to vaccination. Many station moderators continue to rage against the vaccination.
The government has been trying to get people vaccinated for weeks – and has also reached out to Fox News and other broadcasters about the corona coverage. At the same time, health authorities never tire of warnings. “There are places in this country where cases are high (…) and many of these regions have low vaccination rates,” CDC chief Walensky said recently. American health expert and presidential adviser Anthony Fauci emphasized at the beginning of July: If you look at the number of people who die from Covid-19, no less than 99 percent of them have not been vaccinated.
US President Joe Biden recently warned of a “pandemic among unvaccinated people”. Getting vaccinated is the “most patriotic” thing citizens can do right now. He almost begged the people on the national holiday (July 4) to be poked. The government also sees disinformation on social media such as Facebook as one of the reasons for the low willingness to vaccinate. “They’re killing people,” Biden said.
In Florida, the situation is particularly worrying right now. About a fifth of all cases in the United States are currently registered there. Things are getting tight again in some hospitals. Nationally, the number of admissions is at a relatively low level, but where relatively few people are vaccinated, the increase again is much faster.
But the call for vaccination seems to be fruitful to say the least. In fact, the five states with the highest number of cases — Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada — have recently had more people vaccinated than the national average, said government corona coordinator Jeff Zients. A change of heart? Afraid of Delta?
The more serious the corona situation in the US gets, the louder and clearer the blame there will become. President Biden does not find such harsh words as the governor of Alabama. But he also recently made it clear that vaccination has long been more than a private decision: “So it’s hugely important that you behave like — we’re all acting like Americans taking care of our — our fellow Americans.”