Editorial: Why are many Ohioans resistant to getting vaccinated?

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Ohio, like other states, is in a race to get enough people vaccinated to curb the spread of the variants.

Resistance among pockets of Ohioans to getting vaccinated is an impediment to that goal. Some people say they plan to wait until the state has herd immunity and the virus is no longer a threat — but that could be never, if the variants gain enough of a foothold.

“We cannot vaccinate fast enough,” Gov. Mike DeWine said last week.

Yet a significant number of state politicians are saying they’ll decline. In the Dayton area, nearly 30% of state representatives and senators queried by the Dayton Daily News said they would not be vaccinated, slightly more than 50% said they would and nearly 20% didn’t say.

Ohio has started running public service announcements featuring vaccinated couples of various backgrounds and ages speaking about the relief they’ve felt at being able to see and hug elderly relatives and grandkids again.

Achieving high vaccination rates will confer economic advantage — one reason the Cincinnati Reds are offering special $10 tickets to those with at least one shot, part of a regional effort to get 80% of the population vaccinated before July 4, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Does this presage a “COVID passport” of sorts — making it easier to travel, dine out, socialize and go back to work for those who can show they’ve been vaccinated? Some hope and others fear that could be coming.

A Butler County Republican has introduced House Bill 248, which would allow any Ohioan to decline to be vaccinated (against any disease) and would prevent public entities from requiring such a vaccination, or from being able to “deny service or access to, segregate, require a facial covering or other vaccination status label for, or otherwise penalize an individual financially or socially for declining” to be vaccinated.

So what does our Editorial Board Roundtable think? How can Ohio best increase the vaccination rate and quell possible misinformation before vaccine resistance leads to another crisis in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations? What’s driving the anti-vax sentiments, especially when COVID-19 vaccines are free and increasingly available, and have been given to nearly 4 million Ohioans and to more than 100 million Americans without major problems?

Thomas Suddes, editorial writer:

Public service announcements by a truly diverse group of respected Ohioans — say, athletes, entertainers, spiritual leaders — might help. But the more officeholders who frame this matter politically, the more Ohioans who will die.

Ted Diadiun, columnist:

The vaccine shouldn’t be forced on any rugged individualists out there who decline it. At the same time, the rest of us should not be forced to associate with them. Any shopkeeper, merchant or sports venue should be within their rights to deny service or entry to anyone who cannot produce proof of vaccination.

Eric Foster, columnist:

We know what’s driving vaccine hesitancy: politics. In a recent poll, those most likely to refuse a vaccine were white Republican men (49%). This can only be fixed by Republican Party leaders promoting science — unlikely to happen. Individual freedom does not mean freedom to spread a contagious disease. Thus, the only viable response is mandatory vaccinations. Vaccinate or else.

Lisa Garvin, editorial board member:

The vaccine misinformation horse has left the barn and isn’t coming back. Ironically, those who refuse vaccination on ideological grounds while clamoring for everything to reopen may keep us from attaining the necessary herd immunity. Getting vaccinated is a patriotic act, but too many have been duped into believing otherwise, to the detriment of us all.

Victor Ruiz, editorial board member:

Reasons why people oppose the vaccine range from legitimate fear that comes from this country’s history to those who have a tremendous amount of privilege, and delusion. I think the best thing is to continue making vaccines available and more accessible to anyone that wants them, including children, and let others deal with the consequences.

Mary Cay Doherty, editorial board member:

First, there are no long-term safety data for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. That made my own decision to get the vaccine difficult. Second, let’s end pandemic bullying, shaming, and hyperbole. Recognize legitimate concerns and differing views. Respect each person’s right to decide for themselves. Vaccines aside, pandemics end. This one will, too.

Elizabeth Sullivan, opinion director:

We are at war against a deadly virus that’s cost the lives of nearly 19,000 Ohioans and hurt countless others economically, physically and emotionally. Everyone wants a return to normalcy. Getting vaccinated is the best and fastest way to achieve it.

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