Tennessee resumes some outreach to parents over vaccines
Two weeks ago, Tennessee went charging back to the Middle Ages, as Republicans in the state legislature first pressured the state health department into firing the vaccine director, and ending all vaccination events that were held on school property. Even though the state supreme court had already ruled that minors have the right to be vaccinated even if their parents don’t approve, Tennessee made sure they didn’t get a chance to exercise that right—by removing the names of everyone under 18 from the database at the department of health, so that they couldn’t be notified of any available vaccine in their area.
All that was just the warm-up act. Under pressure from increasingly vocal and triumphant anti-science forces, Tennessee took it several big steps further: The state stopped all outreach to children and parents about vaccines. Not just COVID-19, but measles, polio, the works. For just a moment there, the forces of anti-reason had a period of genuine joy: They had returned the state of Tennessee back to those joyful times when the majority of graves in cemeteries were those of children.
However, with the delta variant surging and a good deal of ink spilled over the foolishness of this decision, Tennessee has decided to make an attempt at rejoining Team Twenty-First Century. As The Washington Post reports, Tennessee is restarting vaccine outreach, including outreach to teens about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We put a pause on many things,” said Tennessee health commissioner Lisa Piercey, “and then we have resumed all of those.” Though it seems that the department is now expressly targeting all comments toward parents rather than teens, despite that pesky ruling that says teens have the right to seek vaccination on their own. One thing Tennessee hasn’t reversed: The former vaccine administrator is still fired, despite the fact that she did nothing but give an accurate answer when asked about access to vaccines.
Currently, less than 39% of those over 12 have been vaccinated for COVID-19 in Tennessee.
Conservative radio host “regrets not getting the vaccine” after contracting COVID-19
Speaking of Tennessee, that state is home to conservative radio pundit Phil Valentine who, as The Hill reports, is now in an ICU, on breathing assistance, after coming down with COVID-19.
Valentine’s family has issued a statement saying that “Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine,’ and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon.”
However, as The Guardian reports, Valentine’s positions in the past have been a bit more than insufficiently pro-vaccine. Valentine played up fears of volunteers going door-to-door, and “tried to draw comparisons between hospital workers who had to indicate their COVID-19 vaccination status on their work ID badges with Jews forced to wear yellow stars in Nazi Germany.”
And while Valentine has previously stated that he’s not an anti-vaxxer, he did so in a way that was itself designed to downplay the need for the vaccine. “I’m just using common sense,” wrote Valentine in explaining why he did not get vaccinated. “What are my odds of getting COVID? They’re pretty low. What are my odds of dying from COVID if I do get it? Probably way less than 1%. I’m doing what everyone should do, and that’s my own personal health risk assessment.”
Now he’s getting an unfortunate lesson in what happens when you try to play the odds rather than taking a sure bet.
Anti-maskers attack breast cancer patient outside clinic
If there was a guidebook on How to Make Your Unethical Movement Even More Despicable, one chapter might focus on what’s going on at the Cedars-Sinai Breast Health Services in West Hollywood, California. That’s where a small group of extremist anti-maskers have chosen to set up a protest … against the clinic’s requirement that everyone entering wear a mask. On Thursday, that led to a confrontation with a patient—a confrontation in which protesters ended up beating a woman being treated for breast cancer.
The reason that the clinic is so adamant about mask-wearing is simple enough, and obvious to everyone involved: Cancer patients, including those undergoing chemotherapy, have seriously compromised immune systems. Many of them can’t develop the necessary antibodies to protect themselves against a disease even if they are vaccinated. That leaves them extremely vulnerable to infection, at a point where many are also physically exhausted and under severe stress from treatment and the cancer itself.
To be clear, the anti-maskers are pushing an agenda that has no rational foundation in the first place. Studies have found that mask-wearing can play a significant role in preventing the spread of COVID-19, as well as other diseases. And mask-wearing is safe, even for people undergoing intense exercise. And the anti-mask crowd has chosen to deliberately push their pro-illness agenda on people who are in the midst of the most difficult, dangerous, and frightening periods of their lives.
Naturally, the right’s reaction to this event was to declare that the cancer patient was “an antifa plant” and to deny that she is undergoing cancer treatment.
Patients going to this clinic are terrified already. By setting up their protest here, anti-maskers know that they can generate anger and cause confrontations. They can also win the award for worst people in the world—which they would wear proudly.
And don’t forget …
Just because fear of the delta variant has caused some Republicans to momentarily snap out their anti-vax rhetoric, that doesn’t mean we don’t still have things like this.
“The Biden administration wants to knock down your door KGB-style to force people to get vaccinated!” Rep. Jason T. Smith (R-Mo.) tweeted this month, distorting a new campaign to share information about the shots.