There haven’t been any high school genre movies entitled The Fully Vaccinated Breakfast Club or Mean Antivaxxers just yet. But apparently some people who want to get vaccinated against Covid-19 may be facing high school-type peer pressure or even bullying. In the following video, Priscilla Frase, MD, the chief medical information officer for Ozarks Healthcare, described how her patients said they actually had to don disguises while getting vaccinated so that their family members and peers wouldn’t find out:
Ozarks Healthcare is based out of West Plains, Missouri. As of today, only 42.1% of the total Missouri population and 49.3% of the 12 years and older population are fully vaccinated, according to Missouri’s Covid-19 Dashboard. So if you are fully vaccinated in Missouri, you still may be in the minority in your community.
Welcome to the High School Musical that’s America 2021, where grown adults actually have to hide doing something that may benefit themselves and others. We’re in the middle of a Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, a public health emergency. The more contagious Delta variant is spreading. And there are people actually judging and stigmatizing others who get vaccinated?
OK, it’s not clear how many people have actually had to resort to wearing a disguise. It’s also not clear how elaborate these disguises may have been. Wearing a hat or some glasses a la Clark Kent or Kara Danvers is one thing. Dressing up as a hot dog and telling others that your first name is “Hot” and your last name is “Dog” is something completely different.
Nonetheless, it’s not surprising that people may resort to disguising themselves. After all, political leaders and others pushing anti-vaccination messages have politicized and culturalized vaccination to a rather high schoolish degree. It’s been sort of like how high school bullies try to arbitrarily label some activities as cool and others as loserish. They’ve turned getting vaccinated and taking Covid-19 precautions into us versus them cliques.
So as a result, some people may be reluctant to admit whether they’ve been vaccinated, sort of like how jock Mike Dexter hid that he hung out with nerdy guy William Lichter in the movie Can’t Hardly Wait. On July 22, Annie Grayer, Lauren Fox and Sarah Fortinsky reported for CNN that nearly half of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have not revealed publicly whether they’re vaccinated against Covid-19. They quoted Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) as responding “that’s very nosy of you,” when asked about his vaccination status, and saying, “I think we should be talking more about freeing Britney.” So essentially, Gaetz seemed to be saying don’t hit me baby one more time with that question.
Then there’s Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who’s been called a “superspreader” of Covid-19 vaccine fears by HBO TV host John Oliver, as I described previously for Forbes. He’s been quite a Tucker when talking about vaccines. Yet, as Charlotte Alter reported for Time, when she asked Carlson about his vaccination status, he wasn’t exactly forthcoming. He reportedly replied: “Because I’m a polite person, I’m not going to ask you any supervulgar personal questions like that.” Supervulgar? It’s not as if the reporter was asking Carlson whether he has autoplushophilia, which according to a HuffPost article is “arousal to oneself dressed as a giant cartoon-like stuffed animal.” Or xylophilia, which is arousal to wood and not the kind of wood that you might expect.
As with high school cliques and bullies, you can’t always tell if someone is taking a stance because he or she actually believes in that position or because it portrays a certain image.
It’s one thing to not get vaccinated yourself because you have questions about the Covid-19 vaccine or don’t want to feel pressured into getting vaccinated. That’s understandable. Not everyone has the same knowledge and level of comfort with the Covid-19 vaccine. In such a situation, it make sense to talk to a real legitimate medical expert to better understand the risks that you may face. After all, you don’t want to be putting yourself in danger of getting Covid-19 just because you have a misconception about the vaccine.
However, it’s something completely different to pressure others to not get vaccinated. Someone around you getting vaccinated does not pose a risk to you. There’s no evidence that a Covid-19 vaccine alone will cause someone to shed the virus, despite what some anonymous social media accounts are trying to tell you. If you want others around you to not get the vaccine just because you don’t want to, that’s high schoolish. And if you’re telling others to not get vaccinated even though you yourself got vaccinated? Well, there’s plenty of high schoolish names for that with none of them being very nice.