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Reexamined sound bite: "pandemic of unvaccinated"

This sound bite captures the stark reality that unvaccinated individuals are responsible for many new infections and cases. A recent government study found that hospitalization rates among adults who were not vaccinated were 17 times higher than those who were fully vaccinated.

However, the term does not appear to be changing minds or hearts among those who aren't vaccinated. It doesn't give the whole picture, as some breakthrough infections have been reported among fully vaccinated people. Health officials have recommended that people get back to their masks and receive booster shots.

"It's true that the most affected are those who are not vaccinated, but it is important to remember that there are also some people who are vaccinated, due to the delta variant," Dr. Eric Topol, professor at Scripps Research in La Jolla. "The pandemic is clearly affecting all people, not just those who are unvaccinated."

Topol points to Louisiana, where data from the state suggest that nearly 10% of hospitalized patients are vaccinated.

He said that a "pandemic of unvaccinated people" could be stigmatizing those who are not vaccinated. Topol stated, "We shouldn't partition them as an exclusive problem."

Instead, officials should point out vaccine disinformation according to Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. A sketchy stream of dubious arguments continues to undermine public confidence.

Hotez stated that although it is possible to say that the virus has returned in the south, most notably among unvaccinated individuals, this does not mean that we should blame them. Hotez stated that we must target disinformation purveyors and recognize that disinformation is being spread to the unvaccinated.

Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, has attempted to draw attention to the harm done by misinformation. For many, vaccine opposition is ingrained.

In July, 45% of adults who have not received a vaccine were not certain they would get it. 35% said that they probably wouldn't. Nearly two-thirds of unvaccinated adults (64%) said that they were unsure if shots will protect them from mutations such as the delta variant. However, public health data shows vaccination significantly reduces the chance of serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Only 3% of adults who are not vaccinated said that they would get it.

Robert Blendon, who studies public opinion about health care at Harvard T.H., said that calling it a "pandemic among the unvaccinated is just provocative". Chan School of Public Health. Blendon stated that the unvaccinated have a strong opposition to Washington. The more they stir up the opposition, the more they are convinced that Washington is not for them.

But top officials aren't ready to give up a favorite catchphrase.

Biden stated that the "pandemic of unvaccinated" is a tragedy that can be prevented in recent comments on the COVID-19 response.

"We are now in a pandemic, and the only way to end it is more vaccinations," stated Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus coordinator, at a press briefing.

Before breakthrough infections among vaccinated persons became a concern, the term was popularized.

Mid-July, Dr. Rochelle Waensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke out about the alarming rise in hospitalizations and cases. She stated that "there is a clear message: This is becoming an epidemic of the unvaccinated."

Neither the CDC or the White House could comment on whether this sound bite should be removed or amended.

Biden's handling the pandemic was viewed as a strength until very recently. The August issue of the APNORC poll revealed flashing warnings about the president. His COVID-19 response approval rating fell 12 percentage points between July and August, from 66% to 54%. This was Biden's lowest COVID-19 approval rating and was also the first time his pandemic approval score was almost the same as his overall performance rating.

There was almost a 30 percent drop in approval among independents.

Geoff Garin (Democratic pollster) says that he doesn't see any intent to divide the Biden administration’s "pandemic" of unvaccinated Americans rhetoric. He said, "I believe the very clear intent is to tell unvaccinated Americans they are at risk."

A mutating virus can overrun even the most clever sound bites. Garin stated that when you have a dynamic, fast-changing environment like this, communication can be a challenge. Communicators must maintain credibility and stay ahead of the story.

Republican pollster Bill McInturff collaborates with Garin on major polls and stated, "Calling this a 'pandemic' of the unvaccinated is certain not to increase compliance among the unvaccinated."

Dr. Leana Wein, a former Baltimore commissioner of health and commentator on health issues, says that no one is immune to a pandemic.

She said, "We don’t live in communities where the unvaccinated can seperate themselves from the vaccinated because we are dealing a highly contagious disease and there is a spillover effect." It's easy to forget that it's a "pandemic of unvaccinated."

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