Fox News host Laura Ingraham on a July 7 show played a clip of White House press secretary Jen Psaki outlining Mr. Biden’s plans for the door-to-door campaign. “Going door-to-door?” Ms. Ingraham scoffed. “This is creepy stuff. Someone comes up to your door outside wearing a mask showing up at your house claiming to work for the government asking you personal medical questions. What could possibly go wrong there?” Top-rated Fox News host Tucker Carlson on July 6 bemoaned the effort to vaccinate children. “So, because this disease, the median age in Ohio of death is 80, your 15-year-old needs to have Joe Biden’s health authority show up at your house with a needle. … I honestly think it’s the greatest scandal in my lifetime by far. I thought the Iraq War was — it seems much bigger than that. The idea that you would force people to take medicine they don’t want or need, is there a precedent for that in our lifetimes?” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on Twitter made it sound like a Soviet plot. “When the Biden admin calls for ‘targeted’ ‘door-to-door outreach’ to get people vaccinated, it comes across as a g-man saying: ‘We know you’re unvaccinated, let’s talk, comrade.’” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) declared, “Biden is going to homes to push shots. Just say NO!”
Mr. Biden is not forcing anyone to be vaccinated. His drive to overcome vaccine hesitancy is necessary and important. These anti-vaccination voices from conservatives are shamelessly stoking paranoia. They are not alone — anti-vaccination campaigners have been at this for some time — but the latest comments on Fox News and social media are amplifying the dangerous message to millions.
By slowing the uptake of lifesaving vaccines, anti-vaccination voices give the delta variant time and space to claim new victims. This is a threat to everyone because it will prolong the pandemic. Infections are on the rise in the United States. A stark scenario is unfolding in southwestern Missouri, where hospitals are beginning to surpass the level of covid-19 patients seen in December 2020. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday that new cases in St. Louis County had skyrocketed 63 percent in the past two weeks. Missouri is among several states with vaccination rates well below the national average.
Across the country, those getting sick and being hospitalized are almost exclusively the unvaccinated. For Fox News and conservative politicians to be frightening people about vaccines with words like “creepy,” “scandal” and the conspiratorial “let’s talk, comrade” is not mere pandering. It can be fatal.