As the COVID-19 vaccination efforts persist with driving force, it has led to a greater conflict that is not only in the realm of politics but also in everyday life. Some find themselves in favor of vaccine mandates for all, while others feel that this is an encroachment of basic freedoms for businesses and their institutions to force them into taking the vaccine. Sadly, this growing divide between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated in the United States shows no sign of dissipating anytime soon. Places such as New York City are implementing bold initiatives which essentially prohibit the unvaccinated from indoor dining and enjoying the various venues of indoor entertainment, with some major cities taking this approach into consideration. While I like to believe these measures came from good intentions, I believe that extreme efforts, such as this, and the mixed messaging from the mainstream media and political leaders have done great harm in terms of polarization and vaccine hesitancy. 

            The vaccines have been shown by statistical data to greatly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death for more vulnerable groups. With the Pfitzer vaccine recently being granted full FDA approval and Moderna on the way, it should be assumed that more people would want to voluntarily get the vaccine. However, vaccine hesitancy remains steady with the number of vaccinations dwindling as each day goes on. I firmly believe that a big part of the reason why is due to the fact that many of the mainstream media outlets have hardened on the point that even vaccinated people should worry about the virus. With stories of breakthrough cases consistently being promoted as a means of fear-mongering, the media has partly contributed to a message that vaccines are not enough. It doesn’t just end with the media promoting this mixed-messaging on the efficacy of the vaccines guidelines. Some political figures are continuing to impose restrictions not truly based on science.

An example of this is in Washington D.C., where Mayor Muriel Bowser in the beginning of August had ordered an indoor mask mandate for everyone over the age of two, regardless of vaccination status. This on its own acts as mixed messaging, as it has led to some question why they would even get the vaccine since the one of the main appeals of the vaccine promoted by many, even the Biden Administration with President Joe Biden’s “Masked or Vaxxed” statement, is that getting vaccinated is key to living life normally. To add to this mixed messaging, a gym in D.C. called the D.C. Fitness Alliance had responded to this mandate by offering an alternate proposal: it requested that it be allowed to operate on a policy in which all its members must be vaccinated in order to enter and bypass the need for masks.

This request was denied by the mayor’s office, which shows that her decision is not based on concrete science, and it is one of several examples across the country of policies that have only served to further ignite vaccine hesitancy. 

            Ultimately, I believe that despite the proven effectiveness of the vaccine and given the information gathered on the deadliness of the virus, it should be a person’s choice as to whether to get the shot or not. I believe mainstream media and much of the current administration have conveyed mixed signaling as to the actual effectiveness of the vaccine against serious illness. In almost all cases of a “breakthrough” infection for vaccinated Americans, everyone has smoothly recovered.

In addition, every adult has the ability to assess their own risk and determine what course of action to take for themselves and their families. While taking the vaccine is the decision backed up by the data, it may not be in one’s interest for whatever understandable reason that person may have, and this should not be easily discredited. I believe that the vaccine is effective and if someone is vaccinated, they can resume normal life despite being around unvaccinated people. Hopefully, this fact is promoted more by news and political personnel so that we may again fully experience normalcy and end the unnecessary planarization created by the pandemic.