Video: Vaccinated grandparents reunite with grandkids

I missed this when it first aired a few weeks ago but I owe it to you now, as I’ve complained before about TV news not covering these reunions. Good work here by ABC to showcase the chief social benefit of the vaccine, especially knowing how reluctant the expert class is to encourage socializing under any circumstances. Watch, then read on.

Some will scoff at the idea of grandparents studiously following expert advice when it would bar them from something as precious as hugging their grandchildren, but it does happen. A lot.

Doris Rolark blew air kisses to her mask-wearing grandchildren and great-grandchildren when they dropped off presents on her 78th birthday last month. After the CDC guidelines were announced, she resumed hugs.

“It was great. I’m getting excited to see the rest of them,” said the Middletown, Ohio, woman, who has three grandchildren and 16 great-grandkids. “I hope it’s going to be better now.”…

[I]n early March, Evelyn Shaw received a “prescription” from a family doctor: A directive to finally hug her 23-year-old granddaughter after being fully vaccinated.

“I was stuck,” Shaw told CNN. “I was stuck in COVID-land, and having this prescription from my doctor gave me the courage to let her in.”

According to the CDC, more than 70 percent of senior citizens have had their first shot now and nearly half have had their second. Lotta hugs happening nowadays. That’s the good news.

The not so good news is that we’ll start running out of willing recipients sooner than we’d like. Pollster Patrick Ruffini finds that the share of Americans who’ve been vaccinated or are willing to be vaccinated has grown since last month — but so has the share who are unwilling:

If you’ve followed the polls on vaccine uptake you know that Republicans are considerably more likely than Democrats to say they’ll refuse the jab. That should mean that red states will have more difficulty than blue states in keeping up the pace on vaccinations, and in fact that’s what we’re starting to see:

D.C. is also doing poorly so it’s not a pure party-line phenomenon, but still. Another thing we should expect from red states, where there are more vaccine refuseniks, is that they’ll hit a “wall” of holdouts within priority groups sooner than blue states will. The average blue state may see 95 percent of seniors willing to get their shots whereas the average red one might see 85 percent. If you’re the governor of a red state, you’ll face a dilemma once you’ve worked your way through that willing 85 percent group: Do you continue to limit priority to senior citizens for a few weeks in hopes of coaxing that 15 percent of holdouts into getting the jab or do you open up eligibility to the next age group to continue growing the share of the total population that’s being immunized?

The answer is obvious: You expand eligibility and keep moving towards herd immunity with alacrity, worrying about the holdouts later. If you can get 75 percent of your population vaccinated, that’ll help protect the 25 percent of resisters. We’re seeing that phenomenon play out in the data now too, as it’s surely not a coincidence that nearly all of the states opening up eligibility to all adults by next week are red ones:

California is a notable exception (probably motivated by Gavin Newsom’s panic over the effort to recall him from office) and Connecticut has moved up its eligibility date for all adults since the map above was made, but otherwise it’s nearly all red states that have moved first. Governors with mostly conservative constituents are probably seeing diminishing numbers of willing vaccine recipients among priority groups sooner than blue-state governors are so they’re doing the prudent thing and moving to immunize the rest of the willing population immediately.

Soon the White House will face a dilemma too. They’ve already contracted for doses to cover 400 million people, which is more than we need to cover every man, woman, and child in the U.S. and far more than we need to cover every willing man, woman, and child. What will Biden do with the surplus if we end up with, say, 50 million people who adamantly refuse to get vaccinated? Should he hold back 100 million doses in case they change their minds? Or should he sell/loan/gift them to some foreign country, mindful of the fact that we’ll run the risk of dangerous new variants arising until the entire planet is vaccinated? Fifty million doses is enough to immunize entire countries. If the only way to defeat COVID is to extinguish a global inferno as quickly as possible then the answer to the question of what to do with the surplus seems obvious too.