But after engaging with disparate views on the vaccines, it dawned on me: Rather than view the decision to forgo vaccination as an exercise in freedom from government, perhaps vaccine-resistant Wyomingites can, instead, come to see getting vaccinated as a step toward protecting their local community from another hard time.
Wyomingites may be more inclined to trust local and state health officials than the federal government, the University of Wyoming economists have said. (Gov. Mark Gordon of Wyoming, a Republican, has encouraged vaccination but also banned “vaccine passports.”) It’s likely most effective if primary health care providers promote the vaccines, Linda Thunström, the lead author of the University of Wyoming study on vaccine hesitancy, told me. Ms. Porter, the public health expert at the university, suggested training trusted community figures, like doctors and religious leaders to talk, judgment-free, to vaccine-resistant people who have questions about the vaccines.
Several people suggested appealing directly to the well-being of family. Lee Spoonhunter, a co-chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, said his message to healthy young people is, “Get it so you can protect Mom and Dad and Auntie and Uncle.” As of late May, about 40 to 50 percent of the Northern Arapaho Tribe was vaccinated, Matthew Benson, a tribal spokesman, said.