Under the Mike Rowe Scope: Vaccine Skeptics

I have not publicly encouraged anyone to get vaccinated. In fact, I have recently declined to participate in several PSA’s designed to persuade people to get the jab. That’s not because I’m opposed to vaccines, obviously. Vaccines have saved more lives than any other advancement in the long history of medicine, and to your point, I got the shots the minute I was eligible. But I’m not a doctor, Steve, and even though I occasionally play one on TV, I’m not inclined to dispense medical advice to the people on this page.

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True, I did appear in a few PSA’s early on, back when they assured us that locking down was essential to keeping our hospitals from being overrun. “Two weeks to flatten the curve!” Remember that one? That of course, turned out to be untrue, and I regret my role in helping perpetuate that particular falsehood. I also regret what I said during the first Zoom show to air in primetime. It was an episode of After the Catch, where I discussed the lockdowns with a few crab-boat captains. At one point, I looked into the camera lens on my computer and said, with uncharacteristic earnestness, “For the first time in a long time, it appears we’re all in the same boat.”

Well, I was wrong about that, too. We were not in the same boat, not then or now. We were in the same storm, but our boats were very different. Some prospered during the lockdowns and rode out the gale in yachts and pleasure crafts. Others floundered and weathered the storm in rowboats and dinghies. Some had no boat at all and hung on for dear life to whatever flotsam and jetsam they could find. Point is, I said some things I regret back then, and spoke too broadly to too many. Thus, the only thing I’ll say now regarding the vaccine, is that there is risk in everything we do, and there is risk in everything we don’t do. Thus, there is risk in getting vaccinated, and there is risk in not getting vaccinated. Obviously, I made my decision, but again, I’m not a doctor. Thus, I am not equipped to answer questions like, “But Mike, if the vaccine is so safe, why hasn’t the FDA approved it? Or, “But Mike, if the vaccine is so effective, why is the government now treating us all as if we’re unvaccinated?”

These are fair and reasonable questions, and I have no logical reply. Here in California if you’re inside, you must now wear a mask, vaccinated or not. What kind of message does that send? Yes, we have a new variant, and from what I’ve read, it’s highly contagious, but far less virulent – especially if you’re vaccinated. According to the CDC, just one 1 in 27,000 vaccinated people have contracted it. That means if you’re vaccinated, you’re more likely to get struck by lightning than contract COVID. And yet, people are once again calling for more lockdowns, more restrictions, and more compliance from those who already got their shots.

The fact is, millions of reasonable Americans have every right to feel confused and skeptical. Those people you refer to, Steve – the ones now telling us that we can “get back to normal just as soon as everyone is vaccinated” – those are the same people who said, “two weeks to flatten the curve!” Those are the same people who told us that masks were “useless” before they told us they were “critical.” Those are the same people who told us that a return to normalcy would occur just as soon as “the most vulnerable” among us were vaccinated. Then, just as soon as “half the population” was vaccinated. Then, just as soon as we achieved “herd immunity.” Those are the same people who told us they wouldn’t trust ANY vaccine developed under the last administration. Now, those very same people are belittling the skeptics!

If this were a Peanuts cartoon, those people would be Lucy, pulling away the football at the last moment while a nation full of Charlie Browns land flat on their collective back, over and over and over again. Those people you refer to – elected officials, journalists, and most disturbingly, more than a few medical experts – have moved the goalposts time and time again, while ignoring the same rules and restrictions they demand we all live by. They’re always certain, usually wrong, incapable of shame, and utterly void of humility. Is it any wonder millions find them unpersuasive?

I’m sorry, Steve, but even if I were an actual doctor, I wouldn’t know what to say to the skeptics on this page. But as a fake one, I’ll say this. Every single American who wants the vaccine has had the opportunity to get it – for free. Those who have declined will not be persuaded by the likes of me. At this point, I’m afraid the government has but one course of sensible action – get the FDA on board, stat, and then, provide an honest, daily breakdown of just how quickly the virus is spreading among the unvaccinated, versus the vaccinated. No more threats, no more judgments, no more politics, no more celebrity-driven PSA’s, no more ham-fisted attempts at public shaming. Just a steady flow of verifiable data that definitively proves that the vast, undeniable, overwhelming majority of people who get this disease are unvaccinated.

In other words, give us the facts, admit your mistakes, try on a bit of humility, and stop treating the unvaccinated like the enemy.