Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin Calls Out 'Anti-Vaxx Quacks' Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham as Vaccine Rollout Slows

Toby Hazlewood

The insidious effects of misinformation

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Anti-Vaxx protestImage from Shutterstock

On July 12th the Senator for Illinois and Democrat, Dick Durbin gave a floor speech calling out the disruptive and unhelpful interference being caused by Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, describing them as 'Anti-Vaxx Quacks' on the basis of their repeated unqualified medical advice dispensed on air. Carlson meanwhile has gone on to deny having ever attacked the vaccine.

Source: Twitter

The tirade from Durbin is the latest example of a senior member of the federal government taking as stand against the misinformation, fear and confusion being spread by Republicans and right-leaning media outlets. In a piece featured in Politico on July 12th, President Biden's Chief Medical Officer Anthony Fauci had also shared his frustrations at the misleading messaging being broadcast by media outlets and key Republican figures in regard to the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine rollout.

Aside from being disruptive and medically inaccurate, the misinformation campaign is noticeably affecting the uptake of vaccines in the US.

Most ironically given Carlson's continued ranting about the virus is the fact that many speculate that he, like other high profile figures and broadcasters at the Fox Network have all gladly had their Covid shot. In May, all three hosts of 'Fox and Friends' spoke on air of their relief at having had their vaccinations.

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Covid vaccinePhoto by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

The effects - fewer shots and more deaths

The number of deaths due to Covid-19 in the US has diminished from its peak - but of the 300 deaths currently being seen each day, 99.5% of these are people who haven't been vaccinated. If all Americans who were eligible for the vaccine came forward for their vaccine, the implication is that deaths due to the virus could be all-but eradicated.

Uptake of the vaccine is now slowing drastically across the USA. In April around 3 million doses were being administered per day, but this has slowed to around 1 million per day according to a recent article in the Economist.

Fear and skepticism amongst the population is considered a significant factor in this slowing rate. Around 55% of Americans over the age of 12 are now fully vaccinated according to data reported by the Economist but this is still somewhat short of the 70%+ level that the World Health Organization believes will be necessary to eradicate Covid-19. At lower levels of coverage, the virus has sufficient hosts to mutate in ways that allow it to spread more virulently and potentially to even undermine the protection of the vaccine itself.

Data from civiqs.com tells an even more enlightening story, suggesting that amongst registered voters identifying as Republicans, vaccine resistance hovers at around 30% with around 40% saying they definitely won't get vaccinated:

Source: Civiqs.com

The effects of the information and opinion touted by the likes of Carlson and Ingraham, and of high profile Republicans like Marjorie Taylor-Greene (who has described the recent federal government plan to offer vaccine outreach in communities as a move similar to the actions of the "Brown Shirts" of Nazi Germany) are likely only to worsen the situation.

The varying effects for different communities

In Republican-controlled states like Missouri, the effects of misinformation are clear to see. The CDC reports that Missouri is the 39th lowest state of the 50 for getting its population vaccinated. In Christian County for example, just 33% of citizens were reported to be fully vaccinated. It is also seeing a radical increase in cases and hospitalization and has had to request federal assistance in responding to the surge.

In Dick Durbin's home state of Illinois which is strongly Democrat-ruled, the effects of confused media messaging are still insidious and harmful. In many parts of the state and its cities, vaccination levels have exceeded President Biden's target of 70% vaccination coverage - In DuPage County for example, 81.6% of residents have had their shot.

But in communities of color such as Englewood, rates are dwindling at a much lower level around 44%.

Such discrepancies, often caused by fear amongst communities over whether the vaccine is safe, are hindered when so much of the media coverage sends confusing and conflicting messages on the subject.

Perhaps it's this confusion that Dick Durbin is keen to avoid when he calls out the Anti-Vaxx Quacks on Fox News.

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