How Do You Know If Your Neighbors Have Made a Vaccine?

Almost every science fiction film about a pandemic has some kind of knickknack to distinguish immunity from potentially infected. In the 2011 film Contagion , the vaccinated received bracelets with a barcode; In the immensely immersive trailer for producer Michael Bay’s upcoming film Songbird (a film that asks, “What if COVID but Worse ?”), KJ Up’s character blinks a yellow bracelet to show that he is not a threat.

Real life is not a sci-fi movie, but Dr. Anthony Fauci did give us some cinematic hopes of salvation last month when he announced that “the cavalry is on its way ” following promising news of vaccine developments. In fact, the first doses of the vaccine could be given as early as this month.

It will be a long time before we can stop wearing masks and distance ourselves from society, even after the vaccine becomes widely available and proven to be effective. It’s unlikely the footage will feature a dystopian bracelet like the movies, but these footage does raise questions that will soon become a real problem. How and when will community life be resumed, when vaccines become available? And how can public pressure and even fashionable bragging be used to get enough people to accept it?

“We continue to see a decline in the readiness of people to vaccinate,” said Scott Ratzan, a distinguished professor of public health and social sciences at the CUNY School of Public Health and a health expert. “In simple terms, we are in bad shape.”

Your neighbors can watch

Experts agree that it is unlikely that the government will require civilians to be vaccinated against COVID. So how do we get enough people to bring an end to the pandemic functionally?

At least 70 percent of the population is likely to need a vaccination before we reach herd immunity, the point at which human-to-human spread of the virus is unlikely, Ratzan said. In an October study he co-conducted, 71.5 percent of people worldwide reported that they were “somewhat likely” to receive a safe and effective vaccine, as did 75 percent of Americans; in some countries, such as Russia, the percentage of positive answers was only 54 percent. These numbers are troubling, he said.

One of the best ideas for solving this problem may come from one of the simplest elements: the “I voted” sticker. Research shows that applying social pressure that emphasizes your neighbors’ involvement in things like voting, processing and donating blood can increase overall participation, said Christopher Larimer, a political science professor at Northern Iowa University and an expert on voting.

Over the years, he has worked on several studies demonstrating that sending people information about their own voting history increases their participation in the vote. In other words, people are more likely to participate if they think they are being watched.

“People usually like to see themselves as voters because you consider yourself a good citizen with a focus on politics and a focus on politics,” he said.

The same social pressure could be exerted on vaccines, he said. The idea of ​​”surveillance” would certainly scare those already breathing vaccine conspiracies, but Larimer said that doesn’t mean Big Brother-type surveillance. Rather, public health campaigns can publish information on how many people in a particular area or city have been vaccinated as a way of rewarding good citizenship.

“This is partly due to expectations of what others are doing,” he said. “If people look at it that way, if there is a way to show that you got the vaccine and others get it, it could increase the likelihood that people will get the vaccine.”

Of course, this is based on the belief that vaccination is indeed a social norm that is good for everyone, which is now a controversial claim. But a selfish desire to “get back to normal” can save us.

The market will demand it

Vaccination resistance could collapse in the face of something that many vaccine opponents want most: the opportunity to return to shovel in the mouth at the cinema or yell for your team at a sporting event.

The US government is likely to require the military, Defense Department officials and other key personnel to vaccinate, said Arthur Kaplan, founding chief of NYU Langone Health’s medical ethics department. But everyone else is on their own.

“After all, the private sector will introduce mandatory vaccines faster than the government,” he said. At this point, he said, the arguments against the vaccine will seem to change: vaccination will open new doors. Travel companies and travel destinations are particularly quick to tackle vaccination requirements and the publication of vaccination rates.

“If you vaccinate, you usually say that you are depriving me of my freedom of choice,” he said. “If you get vaccinated at the height of the plague, you have more freedom because you can go to more places.”

Excitement alone can spur vaccinations: dating apps may even start asking for proof that you got vaccinated before you can get vaccinated, he said.

Companies themselves should step up their actions and require employees to get vaccinated before returning to work, Ratzan said. He cited New York theater as an example, an industry that employs over 90,000 people. In the absence of a universal vaccine validation, the theater industry could come together to form its own certification process for artists and audiences.

“It’s in the common interest,” he said.

There may be an application for this

At some point after vaccination, people will strive to shed their masks and try to lead some version of a “normal” life, however it looks. “While we won’t have a bracelet or badge like the movies, there will likely be a lighter dystopia in the form of apps that you can use to show that you’ve been vaccinated,” Kaplan said. Apps can be created for each state, similar to the coronavirus tracking and alerting apps developed by Apple and Google and currently used in 18 states , including New York and California.

Even so, the private sector could be more effective. In terms of air travel, two applications are currently being developed that will check vaccination status. Dubbed the CommonPass and the IATA Travel Pass, the apps, according to the Washington Post , will act as enhanced digital boarding passes containing your health data, vaccine documentation, and travel plans. Several airlines are set to start using CommonPass this month to verify that passengers on certain routes have passed COVID tests before boarding, the Post reported. The vaccine certification will be added to a clause that remains to be determined.

Even if you’re trying to stay on earth and get back to the joy of paying $ 18 for a beer surrounded by 10,000 people, you may need to launch an app: Events behemoth Ticketmaster is considering using its app to check vaccinations and test results, according to Billboard . (Ticketmaster later clarified that it did not have the authority to establish mandatory vaccination policies for its facilities nationwide, and that using its app was just one way to improve safety at future events.)

Kaplan said that if apps help navigate back to events and other gatherings, it could heighten fear of exclusion, leading to more vaccinations. Soon after the mass vaccinations, people will begin to isolate themselves; The bubbles will expand to include other friends who have been vaccinated, he said.

Even the visibility and tracking that the app provides can be critical in the fight against vaccine resistance.

Smokey Bear for vaccines?

A large number of vaccines will be distributed at the state level. But increased participation may require a federal public awareness campaign or a new mascot, Ratzan said. He cites two popular, long-standing and successful examples: the Smokey Bear and the “Click It or Ticket” seat belt campaign.

“You can’t just leave it up to the states,” he said. “Smoky Bear is 75 years old and [still] is an icon that people know.”

So far, no one has come up with a proposal for Andy-Antibody, but Ratzan has expressed the hope that it will happen soon. Even if it’s not a government-issued sci-fi barcode, something like a Livestrong bracelet could become popular as a fashionable immuno-boast. In Afghanistan, for example, a traditional charm bracelet called the Immunity Ward has been used to counter historically low vaccination rates and high infant mortality.

“I joked that we need a hat for health and people will want to show that they are protecting themselves and their family,” Ratzan said. “If we can start the movement, it will be really positive. To move forward, we need smart people who are willing to do this in a very polarized society. ”

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