The mainstream media has resorted to shaming and insulting unvaccinated Americans as the ongoing COVID pandemic surges, but medical professionals don’t think the “substandard” tactic is appropriate unless the ultimate goal is to further divide the nation.
A Washington Post columnist on Tuesday praised French President Emmanuel Macron for a series of discouraging remarks he made about the unvaccinated, urging readers globally to make life a “living hell” for those who choose to forego the vaccine. The opinion column titled “Macron is right: It’s time to make life a living hell for anti-vaxxers,” was the latest example of liberal journalists and news organizations calling for Americans who declined the COVID vaccine to be treated poorly.
Vanderbilt University professor of critical care Dr. Wes Ely, who studies COVID as part of the team at the CIBS Center, believes in the COVID vaccine but doesn’t think media members who sincerely want to move past the pandemic should mock people who haven’t yet received the jab.
“Shaming people does not change behavior, and in fact, it can get them more entrenched in their current behavior,” Ely told Fox News Digital.
“We all want to do something that will be effective, not ineffective,” he added, noting that addressing concerns of the unvaccinated directly and educating them on the science behind it would be significantly more beneficial to society than mocking them.
“Anyone who calls to shame another human being is resorting to a substandard approach and not a humane approach to helping us increase our connection, our human connection through good communication,” Ely added. “What really is effective is highly effective, you know, interpersonal connection on a human level where we’re listening to one another and shaming isn’t listening. Shaming is talking down to and denigrating and that won’t be effective.”
However, many liberal pundits and columnist have mirrored the Post and attempted to belittle the unvaccinated. MSNBC’s far-left host Joy Reid even suggested that unvaccinated Americans should suffer financially while speaking to a medical contributor wearing a “FAUCI” t-shirt.
“At some point, I feel like people who are willfully unvaccinated, fine, don’t get vaccinated, but they need to pay a little bit more of the cost of what this is doing to our system,” Reid told viewers on Tuesday before noting that other countries punish the unvaccinated by handing out fines, refusing to pay for COVID tests and withholding paid sick leave.
Earlier this week, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik encouraged readers to publicly mock the deaths of anti-vaxxers, calling attacks of this nature a “necessary” evil to tamper vaccine skepticism. In a column titled, “Mocking anti-vaxxers’ deaths is ghoulish, yes — but necessary,” Hiltzik declared the deaths of unvaccinated America are “teachable moments” for the nation.
“On the one hand, a hallmark of civilized thought is the sense that every life is precious,” Hiltzik wrote. “On the other, those who have deliberately flouted sober medical advice by refusing a vaccine known to reduce the risk of serious disease from the virus, including the risk to others, and end up in the hospital or the grave can be viewed as receiving their just deserts.”
Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox News contributor, was hesitant to address the recent rhetoric by outlets such as the Post, MSNBC and L.A. Times because “anybody that would make a statement like that is disqualifying themselves from serious discourse,” and dismissed the polarizing columns as “insensitive and purely political.” He feels people should get vaccinated.
“Whether you want to decrease your risk of ending up in a hospital, that’s a personal choice. I, as a health practitioner, certainly hope you make the right choice because I don’t want to have, you know, the hospital flooded, but I have the hospital flooded with smokers who are getting lung cancer and I take care of them,” Siegel told Fox News Digital. “I don’t shame them.”
Siegel feels that no patient, or potential patient, should be shamed regardless of the current liberal media talking points. In addition, he doesn’t think people who are attempting to shame the unvaccinated even understand what they’re talking about.
“This is spreading regardless of vaccination, so those comments are ignorant and out of date,” he said.
Last week, Politico’s Daniel Lippman asked press secretary Jen Psaki why President Biden hasn’t focused more on “scolding” unvaccinated Americans.
“Since there are millions of Americans who have not been persuaded by the various government campaigns to get vaccinated, why hasn’t the president focused more on scolding the unvaccinated to try to tell them, hey, this is not working for society, we keep getting these shutdowns,” Lippman asked Psaki, who didn’t specifically address the notion of the president scolding Americans.
Biden has regularly referred to the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Dr. Nicole Saphier, also a Fox News contributor and author of “Make America Healthy Again,” said the omicron variant is forcing Americans to rethink COVID.
“When the vaccines initially became available, the ability to prevent symptomatic disease was over 90% so people choosing not to be vaccinated were largely responsible for viral transmission. This is no longer the case,” Saphier told Fox News Digital.
“Vaccinated, and even boosted individuals are getting infected with the highly contagious variant and transmitting it to others as the ability to prevent symptomatic illness has dropped below 30% and the immediate protection of the booster is short-lived. There is no level of boosting that will fully prevent symptomatic illness and subsequent transmission,” she continued. “The goal of vaccination and boosting moving forward is to lessen severe illness and reduce hospitalization rates, so COVID becomes tolerable to an already stretched health care system. As a physician, we have never advocated for punishing patients for decisions that lead to poor health outcomes.”
Saphier feels that public health care officials must do their best to educate people on the benefits of vaccines and boosters but understand now everyone will partake.
“For those who choose not to, mocking them and punishing them will lead to a more divided America, furthering the discrimination we are already dealing with,” she said.
Meanwhile, CNN’s Don Lemon once called on Americans to shun “stupid” unvaccinated people.
“I think we have to stop coddling people when it comes to … the vaccines, saying, ‘Oh you can’t shame them. You can’t call them stupid.’ Yes, they are,” Lemon told then-colleague Chris Cuomo in September.
“The people who are not getting vaccines who are believing the lies on the internet instead of science, it’s time to start shaming them or leave them behind,” Lemon added.
The CNN host had previously erupted over unvaccinated people “taking up the space” in hospitals from vaccinated people who are “playing by the rules,” suggesting they should not go to the hospital if they get sick.
“If you’re not going to get vaccinated, you don’t want to social distance, you don’t want to wear a mask, then maybe you don’t want to go to the hospital when you get sick,” Lemon said, visibly frustrated. “I know that sounds harsh, but you’re taking up the space for people who are doing things the right way.”
While CNN has raised eyebrows recently for pivoting away from the narrative that testing positive for coronavirus is some sort of moral failing, the liberal network shamed the unvaccinated just last week.
“I’ll condemn them,” Arthur Caplan, medical ethics director at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, said on CNN’s “New Day.”
“I’ll shame them. I’m blame them,” Caplan added. “But I don’t want to exclude them. They’ve got to come around.”
Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe blasted pundits who think the unvaccinated should be discriminated upon as “communists”
“It’s not about public health. It’s all about power and control. Joe Biden promised to contain COVID, and he has failed miserably, so they are using the unvaccinated as a scapegoat,” Boothe told Fox News Digital.
“I don’t know if they have noticed, but everyone is getting COVID,” Boothe continued. “Did the vaccine prevent Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Jen Psaki, AOC or Lloyd Austin from getting COVID? The answer is no.”
Fox News’ Brandon Gillespie, Yael Halon and David Rutz contributed to this report.