"The View" berates Jedediah Bila: Why aren't you vaccinated?

“You’ve been at Fox TV too long!” Joy Behar snaps at her at one point, which I don’t get. What would lead Joy to believe that Fox isn’t pro-vax?

Today’s interview is uncomfortable to watch, partly because Bila claims she has natural immunity plus a medical exemption from vaccination — legit reasons to decline — and partly because she’s a former co-host of “The View” and is ostensibly friendly with all of these people. Typically friends don’t say “I just don’t think we should allow this kind of misinformation on our air” about each other’s views, do they?

If Bila’s opinions were too toxic to be shared with the viewing audience, that should have been dealt with either by not booking her or by scrupulously avoiding the topic of vaccination while chatting with her about her new book.

You can read a transcript of what went down here if you don’t have time for the clip. Otherwise, watch and then read on.

I laughed when she said she made her decision by answering the question “What is the best decision for me?” and the audience audibly groaned.

Hostin’s right that Bila is relying on misinformation in her defense. If she’s naturally immune and can prove she has antibodies, fair enough. If she has a bona fide medical reason not to get the vaccine, so much the better. But she implies in the clip repeatedly that vaccinated people are as likely to infect others as the unvaccinated are and that just ain’t so. It’s a common talking point among opponents of mandates like Ron DeSantis, who’s also resorted lately to claiming that the vaccine provides an individual benefit by reducing one’s risk of severe illness but not much communal benefit since the vaxxed can still pass the virus on. If you can transmit COVID to your co-workers whether you’re immunized or not, why should you be forced to get the vaccine in the name of protecting them?

It’s true that the vaccinated can infect others but it’s not true that they’re as likely to infect others as the unvaccinated are. As of early September, after Delta had already slammed the American southeast, the CDC found that the case rate among the unvaccinated was six times higher than it was among the vaccinated. (The death rate was 12 times higher.) The fact that the risk of transmission can’t be fully eliminated by getting your shots is a weak argument against doing what’s possible to reduce that risk meaningfully:

British scientists at the University of Oxford examined national records of nearly 150,000 contacts that were traced from roughly 100,000 initial cases. The samples included people who were fully or partially vaccinated with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the AstraZeneca vaccines, as well as people who were unvaccinated. The researchers then looked at how the vaccines affected the spread of the virus if a person had a breakthrough infection with either the alpha variant or the highly contagious delta variant.

Both vaccines reduced transmission, although they were more effective against the alpha variant compared to the delta variant. When infected with the delta variant, a given contact was 65 percent less likely to test positive if the person from whom the exposure occurred was fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

We’re still early in the global booster process and therefore data at the moment is scant. But it’s a cinch that a third dose further reduces a vaccinated person’s infectiousness, at least for awhile. We already know that boosters provide a huge burst of immunity from symptomatic illness:

Data from Singapore supports the theory that the boosted are less likely to be vectors of transmission too: “Those who had taken a Moderna booster shot after two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech saw a further reduction in infection risk by 72 per cent, while those who took a Pfizer booster shot after two jabs of the Pfizer vaccine saw a 62 per cent reduction.” Even the fact that vaccinated people are much less likely to be hospitalized after infection than the unvaccinated are — ostensibly an individual benefit of immunization — has a communal aspect. Every ICU bed that isn’t being occupied by a vaccinated person is available to someone who needs critical care for some other health problem, COVID or otherwise.

Bottom line: Downplaying vaccination because it’s not foolproof against transmission is an example of making the perfect the enemy of the good. That’s the misinformation Hostin is worried about, rightly.

Of course, it’s possible to take the belief that communal interests should be weighed against individual rights too far in the other direction…

How’s this for a compromise? If you have a medical exemption or natural immunity, you get to skip the vaccine. If you don’t, you’re at the mercy of whatever mandate your employer wants to implement. The “View” crew could have made that deal this morning and had a perfectly chill conversation. But that would have been bad, boring television, I suppose.