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GOP men, get the shot

According to a recent NPR/PBS/Marist poll, 49 percent of GOP men said they are not planning to get vaccinated. That number, higher than any other demographic, is in contrast to only 6 percent of Democratic men saying no.

The vaccine naysayers apparently are unmoved by the fact that they’re not only risking their own health, but also the health of family, friends and the broader community.

If Republican men have dismissed Dr. Anthony Fauci, maybe they will listen to Houston’s local, plainspoken and trusted vaccine scientist, Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine. Both experts believe that herd immunity will require vaccinating between 70 percent and 85 percent of the population. Men of the GOP are standing in the way, for what appears to be just politics.

They aren’t entirely alone. Some Americans, wary of a history of exploitation at the hands of unethical medical authorities, have also proven reluctant to be vaccinated. Reassuring Black Americans has been a top priority for public health officials for months now. But those same efforts have fallen flat among Republican men. Perhaps it’s because a certain immediate past president who made sure he and his wife got their shots, albeit in secret, still has their ear (and their arm). Perhaps these men are listening to Rand Paul, the maskless GOP senator who prefers picking a political fight with Fauci to finding ways to defeat the pandemic. Maybe the holdouts have fallen into the clutches of Tucker Carlson, who stokes his Fox News ratings by accusing government health experts of lying.

None of these carnival barkers have these men’s best interest in mind. And their objections — plus ridiculous conspiracy theories bandied about on social media — are taking their toll. Our hope is that the GOP skeptics will relent, particularly when they see more family members and acquaintances getting vaccinated with no lasting ill effects, more friends hugging grandkids, boarding flights and dining at restaurants.

Holdouts, we implore you to join those who have been freed from the bonds of this pandemic.

We urge churches and synagogues, fraternal organizations, civic groups and, yes, political parties to encourage their members to get the shot.

Dr. Hotez recently co-authored a paper that corrected much misinformation. Despite the accelerated timetables, for instance, the new COVID-19 vaccines have been proven safe. Tens of thousands of volunteers served as test subjects in those trials, an effort equivalent to other large trials in the past. The work to develop the vaccines didn’t begin last year — it relied on decades of previous research on coronaviruses.

Oh, and the vaccine doesn’t change your DNA. While mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines does enter the cell, it doesn’t enter the cell’s nucleus, where our DNA is kept.

Lastly, while some claim the vaccines aren’t worth it because they can’t entirely eliminate the chance of getting the virus, the vaccines in the U.S. are highly effective at keeping you alive and out of the hospital if you get it. Also, if you are vaccinated, you have a smaller chance of spreading the virus to someone else.

All of us, from politicians to doctors to concerned sons and daughters, need to persuade the vaccine-skittish among us to step up and do their patriotic duty. To do otherwise is just plain dumb — but more importantly, potentially deadly.

* Editorial from the Houston Chronicle

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