Vaccine hesitancy — or in many cases vaccine hostility — directed toward COVID-19 vaccines is doing more damage than just the ongoing death toll racking up in Indiana.

Yes, the vast majority of people still ending up in hospitals and dying from COVID-19 are those who have refused to get their shots. But health officials, as well as this editorial board, have beaten that topic to death. The people who haven’t gotten one by now are not going to be swayed by argument.

But the politicization of the COVID-19 vaccine — inflamed by Hoosier political leaders including Attorney General Todd Rokita and northeast Indiana Rep. Jim Banks — and the widespread availability and circulation of vaccine misinformation and disinformation online is doing more widespread damage than just this novel coronavirus.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box on Wednesday expressed her concern that vaccine hostility is going to, or already is, stretching past COVID-19.

“I do have some concerns about that, that this bleed off with COVID vaccines and the political nature that has surrounded that will then bleed off into other childhood vaccines and influenza vaccines that people tend to get on a yearly basis,” Box said.

We already know that childhood vaccination rates for diseases like polio, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, hepatitis, chickenpox, meningitis and others have dropped sharply.

While some of that drop may be due to people putting off health care visits due to pandemic restrictions, some of the decrease is also very likely due to people who have consumed and been poisoned by anti-vax propaganda.

Statewide, only about 70% of children get their shots on time within the recommended first 35 months after birth. Noble and DeKalb counties are right at the state average, but Steuben County trails at about 65% while heavily Amish LaGrange County is worst in the state at slightly below 50%.

The good news is that for a lot of Hoosier children it’s better late than never as almost all children end up getting them eventually, primarily because these vaccines are mandated for students starting kindergarten.

Box also notes that vaccine mudslinging is likely to reduce flu vaccination efforts. Like COVID-19, influenza is more dangerous to older people and can stress health care facilities during particularly bad seasons. But flu can also be highly dangerous to very young children, too.

With hospitals still seeing many patients from COVID-19, the last thing facilities need is a pile of flu patients filling up beds as well. Nevermind that schools and employers are impacted when diseases go unchecked, causing sick days and lost productivity.

Many communicable diseases are endemic, meaning they never truly go away and can’t be fully eradicated from the population. But that’s precisely why vaccines were developed and deployed at mass scale, in order to control these illnesses as much as possible and reduce their toll as much as possible.

Disease outbreaks are opportunistic. As we’ve seen with COVID-19 this year, the delta variant primarily ravaged those people who opted not to vaccinate. Some of those who had their shots may suffer breakthrough infections, but they rarely end up seriously ill or dead.

That’s not a situation we should aim to repeat with flu or any other disease by letting anti-vax hucksters erode confidence and trust in extremely effective, extremely safe modern medicines.

OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Grace Housholder, Andy Barrand, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. We welcome readers’ comments.

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(2) comments

Robert Sparkman

I am vaccinated against Covid, but I don't think vaccination should be forced upon people in the manner that Joe Biden is doing it. I think that the Republican congressmen hold the same view.

Additionally, it is true that vaccination of some younger people has caused serious health issues such as myocarditis.

Also, since politics was brought into this discussion, folks should be aware that prominent Democrat politicians said that they would NOT get the vaccination that was developed under the Trump administration prior to the election. It was only AFTER the election that they jumped on the Biden bandwagon to force folks to get it.

Additionally, I would like to point out that I am not necessarily a big fan of Donald Trump, but I am totally against leftism in this nation. Trump wasn't a leftist, so I voted for him. Are there others I think were better candidate? Yes, but they weren't nominated, and I will NOT vote for a Democrat due to their stance on abortion, unbiblical sexual practices, and Neo-Marxist ideology/activism. Joe Biden has made his alliance with the left very evident through his policies and his nominations.

Anyways, here's a link to the CDC concerning myocarditis and the Covid vaccine. I don't see much coverage of this. Additionally, I see very little regard in the media for those who have already had Covid and have natural immunity. This includes a lot of the Amish. I am sure a lot of the leftists would like to vilify them for non-conformity even though they have already had Covid.

As an aside, I think the Democrats violate their own mantra of "My body, my choice" when it comes to Covid vaccines. They love to say it when they are talking about abortion, but not Covid vaccination. An abortion kills an unborn child every time.

Robert Sparkman

By the way, my remarks should not be taken as encouragement for anyone to remain unvaccinated. I have been vaccinated because I think the potential hazards outweighed the benefits in my circumstances. I have absolutely no allegiance to Joe Biden or his administration, and his bullying played no part in my decision. I relied on my own judgment, as well as those of medical professionals. And, I am always suspicious of every single action of Joe Biden and his administration because I know they are allied with the left.

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