Floridians reluctance to COVID-19 immunization

Horse refusing to be lead

“You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink!”

A reflection on Florida’s #COVID-19 Crisis and reluctance to vaccination

So yesterday I am in my local Walmart store in Florida which has become the new town square of suburban America. Every five minutes the speaker system throughout the large superstore is announcing that free COVID 19 vaccines are available with minimal waits right now. It was about 6 PM on a sunny afternoon and the store was moderately filled with a heterogeneous group of shoppers of different ethnic groups and ages. I wondered how many of them knew that Florida had become the number one state of new infections over the past week.
I remembered that the Republican party in Florida had said that yes COVID 19 was dangerous but only to seniors and that young people should not worry. Florida Governor DeSantis just a few months ago said the virus was no worse then the flu and that it would not cause significant hospitalizations. Now of course the rising tide of affliction is affecting, hospitalizing, and killing greater numbers of people ages 20 to 40 because the delta variant making up 83% of cases is much more infectious. In Florida this group has had low vaccination rates.
As I walked through the Walmart nobody was wearing a mask. The hand sanitizing station was unattended. Everyone entering the store just passed by it. Then I wondered over to the pharmacy to see if there was a line to get immunized. To my surprise there was none.
This made me think about an an old saying I learned a long time ago when I was working on ranch in South Texas. “You can bring a horse to water but you can not make him drink!” If we look at vaccination as an analogy to water we can see that the constant barrage by conservatives and other anti-vaxers has created a malignant lie that the water is poisoned. Large numbers of people have been convinced that they should act against not only their own interest but against that of their family, their community, their nation, and even the world. Let us hope that the horse will get thirsty enough to finally take that drink. For this to happen they have to realize that they have become pawns in a political power struggle that cares about winning not about health.
Horses drinking water together

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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