Good grief: Unvaccinated people much more likely than the vaccinated to say it's safe for them to travel

AP Photo/Gregory Bull

We’ve seen polls like this before from Gallup showing that the immunized paradoxically are more likely to continue social distancing than the unimmunized are, but they never fail to provoke a WTF reaction. Even though it’s easy enough to explain the results.

What’s striking about them is that they’re insane on both ends. It’s not just that unvaccinated people are overconfident in their safety, it’s that vaccinated people are underconfident. Like, by a lot.

And I don’t think we can blame that entirely on different human beings having different natural levels of risk-tolerance. Some of this has to be on Fauci and other public-health bureaucrats for having instilled a sense of hypercaution into people beyond what the actual risk merits.

In no rational sphere of reality should a smaller share of vaccinated people believe it’s safe for them to travel than unvaccinated people. The vaccinated are the one group that the CDC has said *is* safe to travel, even though it’s not recommended. But people who are more risk-averse by nature are probably more likely to get the vaccine, to hedge against their small but real chance of developing a bad case of COVID, while people who are more risk-tolerant are less worried about contracting COVID and thus less likely to be immunized. Those varying approaches to risk end up bleeding over into their social activities as well. If you’re worried about the virus enough to get your shots, you may be worried enough to also hold off on traveling for the time being. Whereas if you think COVID’s overhyped and don’t plan on being vaccinated, you might as well travel right now. By forgoing vaccination you’ve committed yourself to accepting the risk of infection. Might as well live life ASAP and take your chances.

But as I say, some of this is due to the influence of the expert class. John wrote not long ago about another poll showing how Democrats, who are more likely to trust the experts, wildly overestimate the risk of being hospitalized for COVID when asked about it. They’re hypercautious, and who can blame them with Rochelle Walensky warning about “impending doom” from a new wave and Fauci himself discouraging vaccinated people from visiting public spaces like restaurants before we’ve reached herd immunity? The expert class’s attitude all along has been that we should limit social contact as much as possible until we’ve reached herd immunity or at least driven cases down temporarily to a few thousand per day nationally — a level the U.S. has never approached since COVID arrived last March. That attitude has been adopted by a lot of risk-averse people, to the point where even the vaccinated don’t believe it’s safe for them to travel at the moment.

And it’s not just travel. Hypercaution has poisoned their attitude about all manner of risk. Another question from this same poll asked people when they think it’ll be safe for them to go out without a mask. Among the vaccinated, just 14 percent said it’s safe now. Among the unvaccinated, 45 percent said so. Ass-backwards. Similarly, when asked whether it’s safe for them to hang out with friends right now, 52 percent of unvaccinated said yes versus just 21 percent of the vaccinated. Among the latter group — the people already immunized — 13 percent said it won’t be safe until next year.

The end of the pandemic is a Goofus and Gallant cartoon. “Turns out downplaying the vaccine gets results!” snarks Philip Klein of how the experts have chronically undersold the benefits.

Speaking of which, you’ll enjoy this:

This is why I keep saying that Fauci’s TV appearances are probably doing more harm than good at this point. Dems are hanging on his every word, but they’re already sold on pandemic precautions. He’s lost most Republicans and he’s barely better than a wash with independents so who is he persuading at this point?

The takeaway from this data supports a point made in the earlier post about a “vaccine wall,” namely, that we may be headed for a longer pandemic in red states than in blue states. Partly that’s because Republicans are less willing to get vaccinated than Democrats are but partly too it’s because the unvaccinated are much more willing to take risks than the vaccinated. They’re not just declining to protect themselves, they’re engaging in behavior that’ll spread the virus around. Cases may circulate more widely in red states this fall and winter, at least until natural immunity — and, sadly, deaths — finally get them to herd immunity.