Antivaxers against KOVID refuse vaccines despite evidence: Streams

West Hansen’s role is to inform people about government benefits and services, including the coronavirus vaccine. But most of his clients do not believe in needles.

John Burnett / NPR

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John Burnett / NPR

West Hansen’s role is to inform people about government benefits and services, including the coronavirus vaccine. But most of his clients do not believe in needles.

John Burnett / NPR

West Hansen flies his muddy Subarus through the industrial landscape of Southeast Texas, where he grew up – from Bible churches, donut shops and the silver industrial towers of refineries. The longtime social worker said she refused to try to explain to her clients how safe COVID-19 vaccines are.

“I’m tired of it,” he says. “I realized there was nothing convincing once someone made their decision.”

He goes out into the tidy courtyard of the town where Donna and Danny Downs are waiting in the living room. He is the home contractor of the fence contractor; he is a legally blind retired insurance seller. They are devout Baptists.

“We don’t like vaccines because if we stay healthy … our immunity will increase,” he says. “But if we take it, we feel it’s God’s will, so we hand it over to him.” The virus killed Donna’s sister and sent her husband to the hospital, but they remain opposed to the shooting.

“We just think they’re the work of a big government trying to control the community,” Danny said.

About 66% of Americans have been fully vaccinated. However, with nearly one million deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death toll is mostly from unvaccinated people. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in six Americans at the national level says they “don’t necessarily get the vaccine.”

“One thing that has been really consistent in all of our surveys is the size of the group that said they wouldn’t be vaccinated,” said Liz Hamel, vice president and director of public policy and surveys at KFF. “It hasn’t changed in over a year.”

“Those who said they would not necessarily get the vaccine were Republicans and people in rural areas, as well as white evangelical Christians,” he said.

A Kaiser poll found that 20 percent of those who said they would never get the vaccine said they were Democrats or politically independent, while 28 percent said they lived in cities or suburbs.

Hansen, a 60-year-old social worker who has worked for nearly half his life, said his clients are mostly elderly people who need help in their daily lives. Its role is to inform them about government benefits and the services they will receive, including free vaccines.

“Such disobedience in getting the vaccine is due to the fact that their family members have died of COVID,” he says. “They openly say, ‘Yes, my brother died of COVID’ or ‘My mother died of COVID,’ and they still don’t know that the vaccine is an opportunity for them.”

On another call later that day, Hansen stopped in front of a dilapidated house at the end of a wooded, unpaved road. The rooms were full of cats and garbage was scattered. Husband and wife wear bathrobes and wait for him in front of the TV.

Faye, a 57-year-old retired graphic designer, asks not to use her last name because she was disabled from a stroke last year and wants her confidentiality.

“Yes, we have had a polio vaccine for many years and it has worked well,” he says. “The measles vaccine worked well. But I don’t know how long it took to get the vaccines … I felt the vaccine came out very quickly after COVID infection.”

Faye says she fell ill in October last year due to a stroke. He was hospitalized earlier this year with Covid disease.

“A few months after people get vaccinated, to find out if they’re still infected with COVID,” he says, “then why? I don’t believe in vaccinations. It scares me a lot.”

Over the weekend, Hansen will visit Betty and Mike Spencer, a retired teacher and truck driver living across the San Marcos River in Central Texas. Spencers openly admit that they believe in conspiracy theories. Mike says he watches Alex Jones’ Infowars program and doesn’t believe reports of Kennedy’s assassination and the September terrorist attacks. 11.

“You know,” he says with a smile, “a few people say the difference between conspiracy theory and reality is six to eight months.”

As for the vaccine, Mike thinks it was developed as a “weapon of mass destruction.”

“I think there are people out there who are connected to nanotechnology and transhumanism and the internet of things – with 6G finally coming after 5G – where you’re always biologically accustomed to the internet,” he says.

It should be noted that COVID-19 vaccines are approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC because they are safe and effective in preventing serious or fatal cases of the virus.

Not all of Hansen’s clients believe in needles. Elizabeth Jahr is a 78-year-old retired hairdresser who has been vaccinated. When the social worker arrives, he is spread over La-Z-Boy who is watching TV with his family.

“I’ve seen a lot of people die from COVID, so it doesn’t make sense for me not to want the vaccine,” he said firmly.

According to the latest data from the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, partisanship and political ideology play a much greater role in vaccination decisions than scientific evidence. In the poll, 56 percent of Republicans and 92 percent of Democrats said they had been vaccinated. All those who have not been vaccinated in the case say they voted for Republicans in the last election. False information about the vaccine became widespread during the pandemic. According to a separate report by the FFK, more and more people do not trust the mainstream media and choose the sources of truth themselves.

“I mean, they’re the mainstream,” says Faye, a retired graphic designer. “They keep saying what the government wants to say. I’m not stupid.”

Asked where she would get the news, Donna Downs said, “I don’t really see the news.” “I do a lot of research and people I trust, I feel like, and I follow.”

When the vaccines became available a year ago, Hansen thought they were a gift from God because most of his clients were elderly and already had medical conditions. But as the vaccinations became more politicized, he saw one client after another reject them.

“It’s just amazing,” Hansen says. “You’re reaching out to a drowning man, and they hit him, and they’re unlikely to take you ashore. It’s amazing.”

Hansen’s protests coincide with those of Kenneth Coleman, director of the Beaumont Department of Public Health. In Jefferson County, Beaumont’s largest city, he said, just over half of the population has been fully vaccinated, a figure that has left the state and the nation behind. His office is asking people to get vaccinated.

“Beaumont isn’t really a big city,” Coleman said. “So nothing is far from Beaumont. For those who want it (they) got it. And for those who don’t get it (they) don’t want it.”

In his 30 years in the department, Coleman says he has never seen people so opposed to health promotion. Today, he is concerned not only about another fatal COVID option, but also about a radical loss of confidence in public health services.

According to him, what happens if there is a outbreak of measles, meningitis or tuberculosis?

“People are calling me,” he continued, “” Yes, I don’t believe anything the CDC says, “” I say, ‘When it comes to public health, there is no one to believe, because the CDC is the Public Health Bible.’ “

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