Here are a few of the lies Californians are being told in an effort that surely has helped sicken many:
Take a COVID-19 vaccination and your life span will be shortened. Get the shot and you will be sterilized or become impotent. Shots include insertion of tracking bots. The pandemic is a government-created conspiracy.
These are absolute falsehoods, pure shibboleths, but in the parts of California with the lowest average levels of educational attainment, they and other falsehoods are in large part responsible for holding down vaccination rates and keeping caseloads high.
They have made COVID-19 – in the age of some of history’s most effective vaccines – mostly a disease of the gullible and the fearful.
Two neighboring counties show how this plays out:
As of mid-December, Riverside County, with 2.47 million population, had seen 5,402 Covid-related deaths over the last two years, while Orange County, with 3.5 million persons, had 5,746 deaths. That’s about 225 deaths per 100,000 population in Riverside County to only about 164 deaths per 100,000 population in a next-door county.
No one can be absolutely sure, but some information suggests that folks in Orange County might be better trained to see through lies than those in Riverside County. U.S. Census figures show 40.6 percent of Orange County’s adult populace with college degrees compared with about 22 percent in Riverside County.
This may be a key reason only 55.6 percent of eligible Riverside County residents were fully vaccinated (two doses), compared with 63.9 percent in Orange County.
For sure, vaccinations are saving lives in both counties. It is primarily the unvaccinated who are dying today from this now-preventable virus.
The difference is even more striking in Kern County, with lower educational attainment rates than either Riverside or Orange county, and a fully vaccinated rate of only about 44 percent. So far, about one in every six Kern County residents has contracted Covid within the last two years.
All this raises a vital question: Since educational attainment takes many years to achieve, how can less educated Californians best be inoculated against the anti-vaccination propaganda spewed daily, almost hourly, on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok?
One way could be via government censorship of those sites. But that runs counter to the First Amendment, which gives anyone the right to prevaricate, even when their lies prove fatal for others.
Best would be to launch a torrid, carefully-timed campaign of pro-vaccination information. One tactic might be to place public service ads on virtually every TV show and social media outlet, juxtaposing their messages with the anti-inoculation lies and vivid illustrations of their consequences.
California government is already set up to do this kind of thing, its anti-tobacco campaign many years old and with proven results including a far lower smoking rate among teenagers than 20 years ago.
Those ads often feature videos of lung cancer, asthma and emphysema victims coughing and wheezing while they bemoan their onetime smoking habits.
Why not imitate this, making videos in Covid intensive care units around the state, with terminal victims on ventilators relieved of their breathing tubes just long enough to say how much they regret believing the anti-vaxx propaganda.
Another might be thorough newspaper and television analysis of anti-vaccination articles posted frequently by organizations like the national Children’s Health Defense group, headed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who uses his name and pedigree to peddle misleading information about Covid vaccines, just as he has through many years of lying about immunizations for other diseases like rubella, mumps, measles and polio.
It would help to show graphically how anti-vaxxers often lift numbers from reports of the Centers for Disease Control and use them out of context. Newspaper ads or TV commercials could show how apparently adverse statistics may at first appear large, but are actually minuscule, extremely tiny compared to the total number of vaccinations given.
So far, there is no steady campaign to debunk the lies and half-truths purveyed by anti-vaxxers. Meanwhile, the numbers from various California counties demonstrate how dangerous and damaging those untruths are, even today, when the combination of vaccines and masks make Covid pretty much an optional disease, mostly victimizing the gullible.
Email Thomas Elias at firstname.lastname@example.org.