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Ross: Getting vaccinated is less political than we might think

Seattle's Lumen Field vaccination site. (Mayor Jenny Durkan, Twitter)

Experts continue to express concerns over whether the country will ever reach herd immunity.

It can’t be easy being an expert, always having to worry, but it’s all that data we keep getting about who is — and is not — getting vaccinated that’s driving all of this.

“I’ve been saying this a long time but I really believe this is not a Democrat or a Republican issue,” President Biden said recently.

But it’s portrayed that way by data gurus, who take the 2020 election map and overlay the 2021 vaccine map — and what do they see? That the areas with the lowest vaccination rates seem to have voted for Trump. Which makes it look political, which compels Biden to keep saying it’s not political, which coming from a politician makes it look more political.

The trouble with this kind of data is that correlations are useless until you figure out why.

For example, if you overlay the election map with a map of tofu-lovers, you’d find most are Democrats. Republicans won’t touch the stuff. Does this mean tofu is political? Will we have to start begging Republicans to eat more tofu for their own good?

So rather than shovel out data, suppose we ask people and hear their actual reasons. That’s what CBS’s Mola Lenghi did.

“Eighty percent of people who were trying to decide whether to get vaccinated say they prefer to discuss it with their doctor first,” Lenghi said. “New York is the latest of a few states nationwide supplying primary care physicians with vaccines.”

She talked to New Yorkers about what it was that actually motivated them to get vaccinated, and received some telling responses.

“I decided to come over here, get vaccinated because it’s the only thing right now,” one person told her.

“If not for your doctor, do you think you’d be getting the vaccine?” she asked.

“No,” he answered.

So maybe it’s not political! Despite the data maps, maybe it’s because some people would rather hear it from their doctors instead of their mayor, or their governor, or even their president. And maybe they feel a little more comfortable getting their shot in a doctor’s office instead of at a ballpark.

By the way – Lynne Cheney is lucky she wasn’t caught eating tofu. She’d have been out long ago.

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