You get the feeling the political split over vaccines is becoming impossible to bridge.
“I beg you …. receive your dosage,” Phil Murphy said today during a briefing in which he recited – once again – the effectiveness of vaccines.
Of the 4.7 million-plus New Jerseyans, who have been vaccinated, only 5,000-plus have come down with COVID. That’s an efficacy rate well above 99 percent.
And in regards to becoming seriously ill or dying, the governor said the vaccine efficacy rate is about as high as it can be – well above 99.9 percent.
That is why the governor and his team have come up with a number of vaccine inducements – a beer, free access to state parks and even a chance to have dinner with Murphy and his wife, Tammy.
Teams also have been going door-to-door – literally – especially in minority neighborhoods to convince the reluctant to get their shots.
History has made blacks suspicious of government-led vaccination programs and Murphy said reluctance in the Hispanic community has to do with a language barrier and fear getting the vaccine will impact immigration status.
But that’s not all of it.
Which brings us to Chris Christie.
The former governor, who agrees people should be vaccinated, said on TV over the weekend that vaccine-hesitant Americans “don’t want to be indoctrinated.”
His point was that many of the unvaccinated, a group that disproportionately includes conservative Republicans, are not prone to doing something because the government wants them to do it.
Let’s keep in mind that “indoctrinated” is a popular term on the right. For decades, conservatives have been claiming that public schools “indoctrinate” students to accept a liberal agenda.
Still, in this case, the term seems a bit off.
Were people “indoctrinated” when they received the polio vaccine beginning more than 60 years ago, or were they just protecting themselves from a disease that could paralyze them?
Christie is probably right about the unease in some quarters, but if people truly think a vaccine to protect them is a sign of submission to “evil big government,” how do you change their minds?
Murphy was asked if his complaints about those not getting shots – he has been lately calling it a pandemic of the unvaccinated – amount to “scare tactics.”
“It’s not scare tactics, we’re not trying to do that,” he responded. “We’re trying to be very blunt.”
Murphy said nothing about Christie’s TV comments, but he did refer to unspecified “talking heads” who have been waving the anti-vaccine banner.
“They’re just wrong about this,” he said.