As daily vaccination rates begin to slip, experts now suggest the United States may never reach “herd immunity” from the COVID-19 virus. As John Oliver explained on the latest episode of “Last Week Tonight,” Americans unsure about getting vaccinated have been inundated with misinformation and unfounded fear-mongering, with the HBO host targeting two sources in particular: Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson and popular podcast host Joe Rogan.
Oliver began with Carlson, playing a clip of the host posing a number of questions about vaccines and CDC guidance that have already been answered.
“It is genuinely weird to see someone hosting a show on a supposed news network, and ending every sentence with a question mark,” Oliver said. “Especially when answers to most of those questions are out there for anyone who cares to know. The CDC is being cautious, and wants to be sure it’s not spreading bull**** around during a global pandemic like a frozen dinner duke with a TV show. Anyway, I hope that answers at least one of your gape-mouthed bad-faith wonderings, Tucker, you scrunch-faced fear baboon.”
Oliver also took podcast host Joe Rogan to task for suggesting that young and healthy individuals shouldn’t take the vaccine, joking that Rogan’s description of himself as a “f****** moron” was accurate.
The problem, Oliver said, was not that people necessarily believed specific conspiracy theories about the vaccine peddled by the likes of Infowars host Alex Jones. Instead, he said the problem is that people are overwhelmed by misinformation and are unsure of what to believe. Oliver cited an Axios/Ipsos poll about vaccines in which only 4 percent of respondents believed a statement that said the COVID-19 vaccine was more deadly than the virus itself, but 25 percent said they didn’t know whether the statement was true or not.
“If anti-vaxxers can simply spread enough misinformation to cause people to throw up their hands and say, ‘I just don’t know enough to get the shot,’ they have already seriously f***** things up for all of us,” Oliver said.
Oliver said that if you know friends are loved ones who are skeptical about vaccines, it’s best not to try to convince them with celebrity endorsements or talking heads like himself. Instead, try to have a good-faith discussion while keeping some of the most important facts and statistics about the COVID vaccine in the back of your mind.
“The key thing to remember is that no side effect of the vaccine is worse than the alternative, COVID, a disease that has killed over 500,000 people in the U.S. alone, while, once again, to date the vaccine has been proven to kill exactly zero,” Oliver said. “It is more than natural to have questions, but there are reassuring answers out there. The truth is, I’m not going to being able to convince the people in your life who are hesitant. The person with the best chance of doing that is you.”
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