The reality has now sunk in among the media that President Joe Biden’s goal of having 165 million adults (70%) fully vaccinated by Independence Day isn’t going to happen. We won’t be terribly far short of it, however. As of Tuesday, we had already passed 150,400,000. But when politicians put out a number as a target (for anything, really) they set themselves up for a pass/fail grade. And given the current rates of vaccination, which have been plummeting lately, there’s no way we’re going to do another fifteen million in ten days.
In early April, the United States hit a peak vaccination rate of almost two million people per day. If we were still vaccinating at that pace we would have blown past Biden’s target with room to spare. But the current rate is lingering around 300,000 per day. If we can maintain that sluggish pace, we should hit 70% (among adults) by somewhere around the end of August. But that’s still rather optimistic since the numbers are continuing to trend downward. Realistically, we might not hit 70% until Thanksgiving, assuming we reach it at all. So why did we come up short? The Associated Press thinks they have the answer and, as usual, it’s the fault of the Bad Orange Man. (Emphasis added)
Other officials said the White House, which has always cast the vaccination campaign as “hard,” nevertheless failed to grasp the resistance of some Americans to getting a shot when it set the 70% goal.
“The hesitation among younger Americans and among Trump voters has been too hard to overcome,” said GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who has worked with the White House and outside groups to promote vaccinations. “They think they are making a statement by refusing to be vaccinated. For Trump voters, it’s a political statement. For younger adults, it’s about telling the world that they are immune.”
Of the White House, Luntz said, “I think they did as good a job as they could have done.”
I can’t imagine why the AP would have gone to Luntz for a quote on this subject rather than someone from HHS or the CDC, aside from wanting to get in an easy shot at Trump to drive a few more clicks. But it’s rather embarrassing for them to draw such an obviously flawed conclusion. There are multiple reasons why this attack is easily waived away.
First of all, if it weren’t for Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, there wouldn’t be a damn vaccine yet. The country would still be locked down and we would be effectively bankrupt, with a death toll in the millions or tens of millions at this point. Trump was the one who made this happen, not Joe Biden. The Biden administration should be credited for aggressively encouraging everyone to get a shot, but that’s not how we got as far as we have.
The reality of the situation, as the AP does point out to their credit, is that the White House always knew the rates were going to slow down significantly once the most at-risk groups in the population were vaccinated. When it comes to COVID, we’re actually doing far better than we normally do with other adult vaccinations. On average, only 45% of Americans bother to get the flu vaccine each season and most of them are senior citizens or those with underlying respiratory or immune issues. Younger, healthy people find the flu to be a bothersome ailment, but they’re really not worried about dying from it.
Guess what? The same goes for COVID. Despite the CDC acting like this was the next bubonic plague, most Americans realize that their chances of surviving COVID are barely less than surviving the flu if they are young and healthy.
Vaccine hesitancy is still a real thing, but it’s not just “Trump voters” who are promoting it. Most surveys show that white Republicans are one of the groups with the lowest vaccination rates, but Black Americans are right up there on the list as well, and very few of them are Republicans. Also, young, healthy adults of all political stripes seem to be in no hurry to get a shot even if they’re not dubious about the safety of it. We personally have young, healthy Democratic neighbors who have not yet been vaccinated, despite everyone over age 12 being eligible now in our state. They just aren’t that worried about it.
If this entire affair has taught us one thing, it’s that the media’s love/hate relationship with Donald Trump isn’t going to go away any time soon, even if he never runs for office again. He’s just too valuable as clickbait, so every slow news cycle will be an excuse to resurrect his name yet again.