Conservative governors have rightly sent out a warning signal to their highly unvaccinated followers to get the vaccine before hospitals fill, businesses have to shut down and people die.
Fortunately, Minnesota is not one of the states with vaccination rates are so low it risks another outbreak. The Minnesota vaccination rate statewide is about 68 percent of those over 16 who have at least one shot, and the Mankato region has a rate of about 59 percent.
Surprisingly, generally conservative Brown County, which voted 65 percent for former President Donald Trump, has one of the highest vaccination rates in the region at 66 percent of those over 16 with at least one shot.
But the reticence nationally of Republicans and other conservatives to be vaccinated threatens public health. A Washington Post/ABC News survey shows 86% of Democrats have gotten at least one vaccine shot while only 45% of Republicans have done so. And while 6% of Democrats say they are not likely to get the shot, some 47 percent of Republicans say the same, with 38 percent saying they will definitely not get the shot.
Republicans governors were on nationally syndicated Sunday talk shows this week expressing varying degrees of dismay and disappointment. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the low level of vaccination in his state at 53 percent is of “great concern” and “the solution is vaccinations.”
Nationally, about two-thirds of Americans have at least one shot.
Hutchinson told CNN’s “State of the Nation:” “We are in a race. And if we stopped right here, and we didn’t get a greater percent of our population vaccinated, then we’re going to have trouble in the next school year and over the winter.”
Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, whose state is at 52 percent, told ABC’s “This Week:” “When it really boils right down to it, they’re in a lottery to themselves. We have a lottery that says if you’re vaccinated we’re going to give you stuff. Well, you’ve got another lottery for them, and it’s a death lottery.”
These conservative governors are right. Justice noted matter-of-factly that people will only get serious about vaccinations when those close to them die, saying there will be “an awful lot of people dying.”
It’s a shame it will have to come to that.
Minnesotans can take pride in our high vaccination rates, though some counties have rates below average.
The only thing we can do is to encourage our friends, relatives and business associations in other low vaccination states to get vaccinated.
It’s a life-and-death decision, and will be key to getting all Americans to herd immunity.