Even Parson’s tardy half-awakening to vaccine imperative irks those who’d rather die

After stocks tumbled Monday on news that the COVID-19 pandemic could sabotage our economic recovery, some prominent conservatives came out forcefully in favor of lifesaving vaccinations.

With the market in full slide on Monday morning, Steve Doocy said on “Fox & Friends,” “If you have the chance, get the shot. It will save your life.” That night, Sean Hannity implored viewers to “take COVID seriously,” and said he believes in the “science of vaccinations.”

A Tuesday column by Hugh Hewitt said what’s true: “At this moment, the national security case for the federal and state governments to mandate vaccinations among the active-duty military and National Guard is so obvious as to foreclose debate. The same is true for all employees at all levels of federal, state and local governments. We don’t know what is ahead; it could be awful, and so the governments have to act accordingly. Mandates on the private sector are beyond the government’s authority right now, but it may not remain that way: The risks are that real.”

Suddenly, more conservatives were willing to echo Republican Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s call for the revivification of common sense. Last week, Cox blasted right-wing “talking heads who have gotten the vaccine and are telling other people not to get the vaccine. That kind of stuff is just, it’s ridiculous. It’s dangerous, it’s damaging, and it’s killing people. I mean, it’s literally killing their supporters. And that makes no sense to me.” If your product is fury, it doesn’t have to make sense.

But when we first heard that Missouri’s Mike Parson was going to announce some incentives to encourage Missourians to get vaccinated, it looked like even Gov. HardHead had at last seen reason. And he had, sort of.

On Wednesday, he said Missourians who get a COVID vaccination will be eligible for a prize of up to $10,000. More people need to “consider” getting inoculated, said Parson, such a bold follower of his base that he’s careful never to get out ahead of them.

Naturally, even this mild, tardy effort to save lives drew an angry response from many of those watching his announcement online. If the vaccines “were good you wouldn’t have to bribe, buy or coerce anyone,” said one. “Pick up a bible. We are in Revelation.”

“Gov. Mike Parson sold himself to China,” said another. “I’m ashamed to admit I voted for you,” said a third.

Maybe the answer to Gov. Cox’s question about what possible sense it could make to be complicit in the death of your own supporters is that politicians like Parson have for some time been listening to those unvaccinated Americans who say things like, “Parson sold himself to China,” instead of listening to those who, as Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Brytney Cobia has told us, often use their final words to plead for the vaccine.

“One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine,” she wrote on Facebook last Sunday. “I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late. A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same. They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political.”

On Wednesday, Parson not only stated the obvious but understated it: “COVID cases have been increasing in Missouri, and across the Midwest,” he said. “Unvaccinated Missourians are the primary target of this COVID 19 strain.”

Thankfully, Donald Kauerauf, announced as Missouri’s new health director, was more direct. “People need to get vaccinated,” he said. “It’s a clear answer. People need to get vaccinated.”

Missouri one of the sickest states with delta COVID-19 variant

For months, public health officials and others have been telling the governor that the delta COVID-19 variant would arrive, and that the surge among the unprotected would overburden hospitals and health clinics, disrupt businesses and schools, and kill more people.

Parson responded to these warnings by speaking unhelpfully about personal responsibility, local control and freedom. “We’re not going to force anybody to take a vaccine in this state,” he said Wednesday.

Perhaps the kids lining up for required inoculations could contribute to the governor’s understanding of the state’s vaccination policy.

His cowardice has contributed to the fact that fewer than half of those eligible in our state have had full doses of any COVID vaccine. By some estimates, Missouri is now one of the sickest states in the nation from COVID.

“We’ve got six times, seven times the number of new cases per day coming now than a few months ago,” outgoing Kansas City Health Department Director Rex Archer said Wednesday.

Perhaps a chance for $10,000 will get more shots in arms. We’ll see.

The announcement is important either way, because Parson does seem to be waking up to the continuing danger of the COVID virus.

Yet in his remarks Wednesday, Parson still couldn’t resist undercutting his own message by urging Missourians to disregard the “clutter” when making their vaccine decisions. “You look at some of the news agencies in this state,” he said. “It’s totally propaganda.”

He specifically mentioned the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Missouri Independent and The Kansas City Star. Shots at us are fine, but not when they undermine this simple message: Get the shot. To quote Steve Doocy, it will save your life.