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Information, Vaccine Hesitancy, and Other Gripes

Public health officials are doing us a disservice by telling us that even after we are vaccinated, we still have to keep taking the same precautions. For people who might be on the fence about the vaccines, or are getting on with their lives just fine amidst the pandemic, this kind of rhetoric isn't a great motivator for people to get the vaccines. If nothing's going to change, why bother? I empathize with this sentiment, because I feel this way, though I have every intention of getting the vaccination as soon as it's available to me.

I like data. In the right hands, it's a useful tool for decision-making. I am certain public health officials have metrics they're monitoring in order to establish a rough timeline for easing restrictions. Sadly, they aren't sharing that information freely with the public. Instead, they advise us to continue taking the same precautions for an indefinite amount of time. People aren't dumb, and they know how to read data. It would be very simple for medical professionals to say something like this:

"We can ease restrictions incrementally as the transmission rate of the virus drops to X, and X% of the community gets vaccinated."

I've over-simplified it, but I hope the point is clear. There is actually plenty of information online1 and readily available to the public. I believe that if the medical community would tie this data to certain milestones for easing restrictions, more people would jump at the chance to get one of the three vaccines that's now available to us. If public health officials won't stop with the vague advice to continue current precautions indefinitely, I'm going to interpret the data available and make my own decisions. I haven't figured out exactly which numbers I'll be using yet, which is why it would be helpful if the medical professionals would back us up by providing us data-driven timeline (with the understanding, of course, that timelines are subject to change because... science). I am fairly confident, though, that if instructions remain vague, the vaccination rate will not increase as quickly as doctors would like and we will remain in this pattern indefinitely.


Footnotes

  1. I prefer covidactnow.org. The site has extensive data that is quite granular, with great documentation about what the various statistics mean.

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