A sequel to the last post about the astonishing decline in COVID deaths among the most frail segment of the population thanks to the magic of vaccines. Reading through the emotional accounts of senior citizens feeling liberated by their immunizations after a year of being locked away from loved ones for their own protection, it occurred to me: I haven’t seen a single TV news report about families reuniting after grandma and grandpa finally got their jabs.
I’m sure they’re out there. But there can’t be many of them, as videos like that would go viral online *routinely* after they were posted. Where are they?
You’d expect news outlets to be scrambling to generate that footage since it has everything a local TV affiliate would want for ratings, a killer news hook involving the pandemic and the vaccine effort and an irresistible emotional human-interest angle as loved ones get to embrace again thanks to the wonders of science. It can’t be that hard to find volunteers either. Joe Biden announced just this afternoon that 50 million doses have been administered to the general population since he took office, with nearly 50 percent of all senior citizens having received at least one shot.
There are a lot of grandparents walking around right now who can safely see their grandkids again. It wouldn’t be hard for reporters to camp out outside a vaccination site and ask them as they leave if they’re ready for a family reunion. If they say yes, you then ask, “Can we film it?” Maybe one out of 100 will agree, but eventually someone will.
So where’s the video of that reunion? We’d all watch it. The news bureaus know it. And yet there doesn’t seem to be a lot of it about.
Relatedly, where’s the coverage of teary reunions at nursing homes now that so many residents have been vaccinated? As I noted earlier, more than 2.2 million nursing-home residents have received both doses already, according to the CDC. It should be easy enough to find some facility somewhere that’s willing to let a news crew film post-vax visits, with the families’ consent of course.
It’s not just an excuse for tearjerking video. There’s a genuine public interest in filming family celebrations, namely, demonstrating to vaccine fencesitters that they can safely reunite with loved ones too if only they agree to get the jab. If public officials are guilty of “underselling” the benefits of the vaccine in returning people to normalcy, the media could compensate by selling those benefits instead. So where are they?
“Those segments got bumped for a combo piece [about] a new variant and mask-shaming,” snarks Scott Lincicome in reply.
Given news bureaus’ obvious interest in producing these segments and the curious absence of them, it’s hard not to suspect that they’re deliberately avoiding the subject for fear of defying the most cautious experts, most notably Anthony Fauci. Remember that Fauci is so keen for Americans to continue to practice pandemic safety that he recently warned people not to go out to eat or to the movies even after they’ve had both shots. That impulse stems partly from the fact that we still don’t know how contagious vaccinated people might be to the unvaccinated, in which case the most risk-averse option is to have the vaccinated behave as though they’re unvaccinated too. But I suspect it’s also driven by the fear that if immunized people are seen violating mask rules and social-distancing restrictions because it’s now safe for them to do so, unimmunized people for whom it isn’t safe will draw the false conclusion that they’re now free to break the same rules.
In other words, those who did the right thing by getting their jab are being punished for fear of setting a bad example for those inclined to do the wrong thing. That’s a bad incentive system. And the media seems to be reinforcing it by not making post-vax celebrations among loved ones a greater subject of coverage.
I’ll leave you with this, in which Benjamin Netanyahu sells the vaccine to skeptics by emphasizing that it’s the path back to normalcy. Teary-reunion news coverage is more common in Israel than it is here, presumably.
So Netanyahu just did an entertaining PSA for the Jewish holiday of Purim, encouraging all Israelis to get vaccinated, explaining the benefits & mocking conspiracy theories about the shots. Is there a reason we can't do this too? Seems like a good message! pic.twitter.com/QwU8dAkLRF
— Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg) February 25, 2021