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Of vaccines, herd immunity, and media concerns

Late last week, The News & Observer treated its readership to this strange juxtaposition of headlines (see above). The top story is definitely news, even if the headline buries the lede, and it could perhaps explain some of the choices that the other two stories “raise concerns” about.

Incidentally, should one-fifth of North Carolinians exercise their freedom of choice (see note below) and choose not to take a Covid vaccine, it would pose no threat to our society.

As discussed earlier, herd immunity for COVID-19 is estimated to be when 70 percent to 85 percent of people are immune. A person’s immunity would be either through natural immunity (having recovered from COVID-19 or a similar coronavirus) or through vaccination. A fifth of people demurring the vaccine would mean four-fifths — i.e., 80 percent — accepting it. Adding the sizeable number of people with natural immunity would push us well past even the upper estimate of people with immunity necessary for herd immunity.

A further note on any risk posed by an unvaccinated fifth. The risk of contracting the virus would be all on them anyway. What would the vaccinated have to fear; after all, what is the whole point of a vaccine? Let us hope that the governor is not planning to reconstitute his mask propaganda to make the fearful and highly suggestible believe such pluperfect foolishness that “My [vaccine] protects you, and your [vaccine] protects me.”

Note: In olden times, way back, gosh, 13 months ago, we’d assume they had weighed the personal costs and benefits to themselves in making decisions affecting themselves. It seems hard for us in this age to believe it, but it was once taken for granted in a free society that we simply believed — and it never even would have occurred to us to articulate it — that our immune systems are functioning properly and are infinitely more protective of us than an edict from a governor.

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...