Whether it’s due to recalcitrance, ignorance, or the belief that they are invincible, young people are creating a superfluous crisis; a crisis that will harm many and cause unnecessary stress to the hospital system. While the current spread of the delta variant may not resemble the same critical outbreak that required our country to shut down – so as not to overwhelm the hospital system – it will, inevitably, harm communities where vaccine rates are low.
And for what?
I still can’t figure out why millions of people are resisting a free and safe vaccine. It’s anomalous, primarily given the fact the people who get vaccinated can do things others shouldn’t be doing without being vaccinated. But here’s the issue: young people, specifically, are still doing the things vaccinated people are doing. They just don’t know any better.
For all the things the federal and state governments have done right in 2021 to combat the spread of the virus, one major flaw still stands out. They miscalculated when it came to understanding the direct psychological toll COVID restrictions took on people – notably young and older folks.
The government was only going to keep young people grounded for so long. As restrictions set in during the winter months, and the ordeal deepened, it only added to more distress among these 20 and 30-year-olds who were desperately seeking the norms they coveted in the year before the pandemic.
It’s not like we can say we didn’t see this coming. We can’t forget the scenes of Spring break 2020 and the neglect we saw throughout the early part of 2021 when so many young people protested in Miami, FL. They gathered in defiance and protested in large groups – no social distancing, no masks, no vaccinations.
Consider this critical point in The Washington Post today:
Resistance is greatest among younger people. Just 38.3 percent of people ages 18 to 29 have been vaccinated, according to federal research released Monday. Across all age groups, people living in counties with high rates of poor and uninsured people and less access to computers and the Internet were less likely to be vaccinated, the research showed.
In general, rural and Republican areas have embraced vaccination less than cities and Democratic states in the Northeast and along the West Coast. All of the states in New England have given at least one dose to 61 percent of their residents or more. In San Francisco, 65 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.
Where did it all go wrong? Why has this country failed so lugubriously to vaccinate younger people? I think it lies with three major components: 1. A leadership inability to influence, 2. Ineptitude to utilize resources, 3. Parental guidance.
When we look at failed leadership, it starts with who younger people look at as leaders… For so many young people (and of course not all of them) there are no leaders. For young people, they don’t need leaders – nobody is going to tell them what to do. They will abide by laws and rules, but as long as something is not “required” and it doesn’t affect their finances or health, or take away something meaningful, there is no reason to consider it. If you conduct a poll – and this is the unfortunate truth – you might find that most young people would not even know who the mayor of their city is, without googling it.
I’m not a substantial social media guy (except for Twitter), but I believe these other platforms – Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok – have not done enough to encourage vaccinations. With that said, I’m not on these, so I wouldn’t know. I just think that there was a major opportunity for these potent platforms to deliver on helping encourage younger people. If young people are willing to check these platforms for viewing their friends’ activities, or to check out videos of strangers doing silly things, etc., then why not have these platforms exploit why the benefit of being vaccinated can improve their life?
Lastly, where is parental enlightenment? I’m 34 years old and I still turn to my parents regularly for guidance and sagacity. I can recall back that when we first closed the country in March 2020, it was my parents who helped provide reassurance as I wondered what was going to happen during a very unnerving time. For some of these younger folks, I have to wonder: are they that disjointed from their parents? Perhaps it’s more than that. It could be that depending on political circumstances, the parents have preached an ideology that runs in line with an anti-vaccination stance. In some cases, the parents may be preaching a falsehood that claims being vaccinated will cause fertility issues or detriments to health. Just awful.
Another significant point to observe:
But the delta variant, which is much more transmissible and causes more severe illness than previous versions of the virus, is taking over the United States with stunning speed, as it did in India, where it was first identified, and later the United Kingdom. It has doubled as a percentage of new infections every two weeks, Fauci said, from 1.2 percent of new infections on May 8 to 20.6 percent this week. Officials expect it to soon become the dominant strain in the United States.
Helix, a lab company working with the CDC to sequence samples, also concluded that the delta variant and the gamma variant first identified in Brazil are rapidly replacing the alpha variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom and took over in a matter of months, according to research the company posted this week. The work has not yet been reviewed by experts not involved in the study.
The delta variant may accomplish the same thing within weeks.
“It has come out of nowhere,” said Mark Pandori, who runs the genomics lab at the University of Nevada at Reno. “It seems to be a very successful variant and is closing in on the number one spot.”
At a briefing two weeks ago, Fauci presented data from Britain’s public health agency that shows that two doses of the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca are 88 percent effective at preventing symptomatic disease caused by the delta variant. He said the Pfizer data would be similar for Moderna’s product, which also is an mRNA vaccine.
But one vaccine dose offers just 33 percent protection, the data shows, a reminder of how strongly the second shot boosts immunity to the virus.
Unfailingly, the predicament is only apparent because people – in this case, younger people – do not want to take the initiative and receive two shots that may alter their lives only for a few days. Even if their lives are altered for those couple of days, the positive outweighs the negative, as they are protected against a deadly virus and the people around them are protected as well. Until we see a dramatic shift in the vaccination rate amongst these age groups, the virus can’t die. The variants will continue to spread and more people will be sickened. Economies around the world won’t be able to function at pre-pandemic levels and more people will suffer ramifications in states and cities where fewer people are vaccinated.
The vaccines “are nearly 100 percent effective against severe disease and death, meaning nearly every death due to covid-19 is particularly tragic because nearly every death, especially among adults, due to covid-19 is, at this point, entirely preventable,” Walensky said Tuesday.
Quite truthfully, it becomes a superficial conviction: if people choose a road of opposition and resistance to something so essential; then, ultimately, they will lose their standing within the confines of societal norms. We will see a situation that resembles the polarization of our political circumstances, a situation thoroughly inevitable.
1. Cha Eunjung, Ariana. Adam, Karla. Guarino, Ben. Bernstein, Lenny. “Spread of delta coronavirus variant exposes poorly vaccinated regions to renewed danger.” The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/delta-variant-us-cases/2021/06/23/ca715f8c-d371-11eb-9f29-e9e6c9e843c6_story.html. Accessed June 23, 2021.