2021-02-19 11:28:24 | Vaccine Alarmism – The New York Times

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Story by: David Leonhardt The New York Times World News

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Nationwide, nearly half of Americans would refuse a shot if offered one immediately, polls suggest. Vaccination skepticism is even higher among Black and Hispanic people, white people without a college degree, registered Republicans and lower-income households.

Kate Grabowski, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins, told me that she has heard from relatives about their friends and co-workers choosing not to get a shot because they keep hearing they can still get Covid and pass it on to others — and will still need to wear masks and social distance. “What’s the point?” she said, describing their attitude.

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The message from experts, Grabowski said, is “being misinterpreted. That’s on us. We’re clearly doing something wrong.”

“Our discussion about vaccines has been poor, really poor,” Dr. Muge Cevik, a virologist, told me. “As scientists we need to be more careful what we say and how that could be understood by the public.”

Many academic experts — and, yes, journalists too — are instinctively skeptical and cautious. This instinct has caused the public messaging about vaccines to emphasize uncertainty and potential future bad news.

To take one example: The initial research trials of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines did not study whether a vaccinated person could get infected and infect another person. But the accumulated scientific evidence suggests the chances are very small that a vaccinated person could infect someone else with a severe case of Covid. (A mild case is effectively the common cold.) You wouldn’t know that from much of the public discussion.

“Over and over again, I see statements that in theory one could be infected and spread the virus even after being fully vaccinated,” Dr. Rebecca Wurtz of the University of Minnesota told me. “Is the ambiguous messaging contributing to ambivalent feelings about vaccination? Yes, no question.”

The messaging, as Dr. Abraar Karan of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said, has a “somewhat paternalistic” quality. It’s as if many experts do not trust people to understand both that the vaccines make an enormous difference and that there are unanswered questions.

As a result, the public messages err on the side of alarmism: The vaccine is not a get-out-of-Covid-free card!

In their own lives, medical experts — and, again, journalists — tend to be cleareyed about the vaccines. Many are getting shots as soon as they’re offered one. They are urging their family and friends to do the same. But when they speak to a national audience, they deliver a message that comes off very differently. It is dominated by talk of risks, uncertainties, caveats and possible problems. It feeds pre-existing anti-vaccine misinformation and anxiety.

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No wonder that the experts’ own communities (which are disproportionately white, upper-income and liberal) are less skeptical of the vaccines than Black, Latino, working class and conservative communities.

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Nicknamed the “Master Caster,” Lynn Stalmaster was an Oscar-winning casting director who helped make the careers of many famous actors. He died at 93.

Booming music, glittering costumes, a feeling of freedom: From Brooklyn to London and other places, Carnival has become a full-tilt joyfest of renewal, resistance and remembering for Caribbean immigrants.

As the singer Justine Skye, who usually participates in the West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn, put it: “Honestly, that’s the one time of the year I feel like anybody, doesn’t matter what shape, size, color you are, you just come together and you just let it all loose, and you just feel so confident within yourself.”

Because the festivities are canceled this year, The Times put together a project commemorating the event and detailing its history. We recommend going through these dazzling photos of the blinged-out swimsuits and colorful plumage from Caribbean Carnivals around the world.

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Source References: The New York Times World News

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