The Great Vax Switcheroo Hits the States

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July 23, 2021 12:32 p.m.

According to Brett Kelman, health care reporter for The Tennessean, the state of Tennessee has completely reversed its decision to discontinue near all forms of adolescent vaccine advocacy. “We put a pause on many things, and then we have resumed all of those,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey. This decision was a huge story little more than a week ago. Now it’s being completely reversed.

This isn’t precisely the same as the Fox/Rightwing influencer switcheroo we’ve been talking about over the last few days. This is a public agency reacting first to the demands of elected officials and then reversing course – at least in some degree – because of a public firestorm. But it’s clearly part of the same general about-face, and both trends are reacting to the same realities on the ground.

Here’s another example.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey held a press conference sounding the alarm bell about the rapid spread of COVID in the state and put a significant amount of the blame on people who haven’t gotten vaccinated. “Let’s be crystal clear about this issue. And media, I want you to start reporting the facts. The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks. Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain,” she said at the event yesterday in Birmingham.

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When a reporter asked her what more the state could do to increase vaccination rates, she shot back with a mix of frustration and perhaps sarcasm, “I don’t know. You tell me.”

But as this Twitter user points out, just two months ago Ivey signed a law prohibiting the use of vaccine passports not only by local governments but private businesses as well.

You can certainly construct an argument where this isn’t hypocritical. But the reality is that across the country we can see a sudden collision between vaccine resistance advocacy, which has more and more become an emblem of Republican partisan affiliation, and the explosion of cases hitting hardest in regions with the lowest rates of vaccination.

Certainly the media/influencer and governmental parts of this turnabout are being driven by the same factors.

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