Editorial: Trust the science and take the vaccine
Third in an Opinion Series
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
A Pew Research Center survey found that three out of five people believe scientists should play a role in policy debates about scientific issues.
The survey found that the public's confidence in scientists is about on par with its trust of the military -- and ahead of its trust of the news media and elected officials.
Does the level of confidence in scientists seem low to you?
It's worth noting this survey was published in mid-2019 -- before the COVID-19 pandemic and the politicization of masks.
The simmering anti-vaccine movement of recent years seems rather quaint compared to the outward skepticism of mask wearing and widespread reluctance to take the COVID vaccine when it becomes widely available.
The Pew survey also found a gulf between the percentage of respondents who identify as Republican versus Democrat who believe the scientists, with Democrats putting significantly greater trust in them.
People's personal situations -- and the havoc that the virus causes -- helps shape their outlook on science. Religion also plays a role. As does the influence of politics -- especially when our president spent months during the pandemic downplaying the virus and either didn't encourage mask wearing or ridiculed others for doing so.
A major concern today is whether Black people will embrace the vaccine. Blacks historically have shared a distrust of medical research and health care in America -- and with good reason.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Walter Cronkite of the world of infectious disease, has launched a campaign to convince Black people of the efficacy, safety and necessity of the vaccine.
His pitch: a Black woman -- Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett -- was a central figure in producing Pfizer's vaccine.
Vaccines have either eradicated or tamped down a slew of diseases in America: polio, tetanus, influenza, hepatitis A and B, rubella, measles, whooping cough, chickenpox, rotavirus, pneumococcal disease, mumps and diphtheria.
What great step forward in this country or in the world -- medical or otherwise -- is not based in scientific breakthrough?
The arms race of the world's pharmaceutical companies to come up with workable ammunition against the novel coronavirus has been breathtaking. The work that has been going into the shipping, storage and administering of the vaccines has also been inspiring.
It is our hope that skeptics will watch the rate of infection decline over time and decide that those who took the vaccine when it became available to them had the right idea.