A just-released Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey concluded that 49% of American adults believe it is likely that Wuhan virus vaccines have caused a significant number of unexplained deaths. Twenty-eight percent think it’s “Very Likely” that the side effects of the vaccine have been deadly to many in contrast with 37% who don’t believe that a significant number of deaths have been caused by vaccine side effects. Fourteen percent are not sure, the usual group that isn’t sure of anything.
You can question the accuracy of this poll or all polls, you can believe that the vaccine skeptics are hysterics, you can believe that these numbers are in large part the result of “misinformation.” However, there is no question that even if they are inaccurate, the numbers show a shocking level of distrust in the pandemic vaccines, and, by extension, vaccines in general as well the health professionals and elected officials who have promoted them. When asked if there are legitimate safety concerns surrounding the shots, or whether doubts have been seeded by conspiracy theorists, 48% said there that concerns are valid. Only 37% indicated that false conspiracy theories were behind the public’s fears.
Glenn Reynolds, the Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee College of Law and one of the most widely read conservative blogger, has it exactly right, writing,
And it doesn’t help if you think this is all bullshit. We’ve never had a vaccine-PR failure like this, and part of the public health community’s job is to sell treatments and preventives to the public. Instead they took a condescending, authoritarian, and frequently dishonest approach, and now people don’t trust them. Earning and keeping that trust is job number one for these folks, and instead they betrayed and squandered it. The costs will be lasting and severe. But hey, at least they’re not the only institution to betray and squander the public trust lately. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.
Bingo. The distrust that U.S. health officials have engendered by their recklessness, bias, arrogance, dishonesty and hypocrisy (like endorsing mass Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the teeth of the pandemic while simultaneously telling the public not to attend weddings and funerals) reduced public trust to a dangerous level. Many people will die because of their incompetence.
Fortunately, the level of trust the public had for elected officials was already in the metaphorical toilet bowl, so the adverse consequences of that group’s idiocy was less substantial.