No change in Republicans' willingness to get vaccinated after Trump endorses COVID vaccines

Noteworthy, but not surprising. Frank Luntz’s recent focus group of vaccine-skeptical Republicans also found the participants unswayed by Trump’s support for the vaccines. Their objections to vaccination weren’t ideological, it turned out. They were wary for more mundane reasons, like suspecting that the vaccines were “rushed” and misunderstanding how they worked. Having a doctor answer some basic questions for them ended up doing more to sell them on immunization than any political endorsement did.

To his credit, though, Trump has been solidly pro-vaccine in his public comments since leaving the White House. I thought he might turn anti-vax out of spite once Biden inherited the vaccination program from him but he’s devoted his energy instead to seeking credit for the success of America’s program. Which is fine, as he does deserve a lot of credit for its success.

He spoke to Newsmax about it a few days ago:

Despite the Biden administration spinning a different narrative, the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed is “going to save the world” from the 1900s Spanish Flu-like pandemic that killed tens of millions, according to former President Donald Trump on Newsmax TV…

“They know I got the vaccine,” Trump told host Greg Kelly. “I got the FDA to do it in 9 months, instead of 5 years; they wouldn’t have had it. You wouldn’t have gotten it ever.”

The media is hailing Biden’s vaccine distribution, but Trump showed little fear in noting it was “done by me.”

“We have 4 vaccines and probably another one coming out soon – all done during my administration – done by me to a large extent, because I got the FDA to do things that, frankly, they didn’t know they were capable of doing,” Trump said.

The vaccines are “going to save the world.” When he’s right, he’s right.

How much has his recent burst of vaccine enthusiasm mattered to Republicans, though? Not a lot, per Morning Consult:

There are two ways one could read that. Conceivably, it’s evidence that Trump’s influence with GOPers is waning. But, ah, I don’t think that’s the case:

Alternately, it’s evidence that one’s view of the vaccine is largely (although not completely) immune from politics. As you can see in the Morning Consult graph, Democrats were consistently more pro-vaccine than Republicans during 2020 even though a politician whom they hated was in charge of the national effort at the time. Dem interest in the vaccine faded shortly before the election, probably due to fears that Trump would force the FDA to authorize Pfizer before it was ready in order to manufacture an October surprise. Once the election passed, the numbers rebounded and haven’t looked back. Republicans, meanwhile, have scarcely budged in their interest in the vaccine since last May despite a tumultuous presidential campaign and wrenching post-election period playing out over that time.

Politicians just aren’t going to get us where we need to be on herd immunity. Doctors will. Politicians can probably make things worse by spreading misinformation about the vaccines, as European leaders inadvertently did by pausing AstraZeneca due to paranoia about blood clots, but even the most influential figure in the GOP can’t make people more excited to get their shots.

Just as interesting as Republican reluctance to get vaccinated is the reluctance among some people who’ve *already* been vaccinated to get back to something approaching normalcy. That’s a noble impulse in many cases: They’re afraid that they might be able to carry the virus despite having been immunized and don’t want to infect anyone who’s still vulnerable. But, boy, I don’t know. Heading right back into isolation after you’ve finally been liberated by science is a little more self-discipline than I can bear:

A growing share of Americans would feel safe resuming activities like dining out or flying within a few weeks of their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but 25% to 30% would wait until the nation reaches herd immunity, according to a Harris Poll survey for USA TODAY…

Twenty-three percent of those Harris surveyed say they won’t feel safe eating indoors until the country gets to herd immunity, and 27% won’t travel by air; 32% won’t feel comfortable attending a concert or sporting event. Those figures, however, are down significantly from the January survey.

For God’s sake, vaccinated people, go down to Krispy Kreme, get your free donut, and live a little. You’ve just been paroled from a year in prison. Savor your freedom! And don’t let the public-health scolds shame you into avoiding an indulgence. I’ll leave you with this, which has me wondering what the point of being vaccinated is if everything we might enjoy afterward is bad.