To Vax or Not to Vax? Get the Vax.

A CDC internal memo that got leaked to the Washington Post informed us that vaccinated people can carry and “shed” the covid virus just like unvaccinated people. This is why the CDC recently decided that vaccinated people really ought to be wearing masks in indoor public places, especially if crowded and near hot spots. There have also been some big-headline news stories featuring vaccinated people who became infected (example).

The attention being given to “breakthrough” infections has frustrated the White House.

At the heart of the matter is the news media’s focus on breakthrough infections, which the CDC has said are rare. In some instances, poorly framed headlines and cable news chyrons wrongly suggested that vaccinated Americans are just as likely to spread the disease as unvaccinated Americans. But that isn’t quite the case. Vaccinated Americans still have a far lower chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus and, thus, they are responsible for far less spread of the disease.

“The media’s coverage doesn’t match the moment,” one of the Biden officials told me. “It has been hyperbolic and frankly irresponsible in a way that hardens vaccine hesitancy. The biggest problem we have is unvaccinated people getting and spreading the virus.”

Here’s some data that popped up on Axios: Less than 0.1% of vaccinated Americans infected with COVID-19. Click on the link to see the chart.

Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, less than 0.1% have been infected with the coronavirus, and 0.001% have died, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: While “breakthrough cases” have been getting some media attention, the low numbers show that the pandemic is mostly a threat for the unvaccinated population.

So that’s reassuring, although I’d like to see comparisons to the same data for the unvaccinated. Big numbers confuse me. Well, small numbers confuse me, too.

Regarding the unvaccinated: A writer for Politico reports on the bar scene at Lake of the Ozarks, one of the vacation spots generating Delta variant infections here in the heartland. In a sane world the place would have been shut down to stop the spread. But no; all the bars and resorts and what not are operating at full tilt with no covid restrictions whatsoever.  It begins,

In a county designated a Covid hot spot, in a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation, and in a region where hospitals are nearing capacity as the Delta variant takes hold, Erin, a bartender at Backwater Jack’s, couldn’t be in a more vulnerable position. She interacts closely with hundreds of maskless customers—sometimes on a single day. She knows most of them are probably not vaccinated. And she doesn’t care. She isn’t either.

“I’m living, breathing proof—I’ve not been sick once. I’ve been as hands-on as you can be with people from everywhere,” Erin said, as a motorboat thundered to the dock and another group of customers climbed out. Like others who spoke for this article, she asked to go only by her first name. She said she’d heard a rumor—common among vaccine skeptics but also plainly false—that “more people are dying from getting the vaccine this week.”

Why we’re doomed. I’m back to wearing masks in indoor public places and going nowhere unless it’s necessary.

Our other vacation spot, Branson, is also operating full tilt. This week we learned that the unvaccinated niece of an old family friend spent July 4 weekend at Branson with her husband. She died on Tuesday; the husband is still in the hospital.

Some employers are stepping up to mandate vaccinations. I suspect that will become more and more common. Vox has a good rundown on who has the legal authority to mandate what.

Stupid Twit of the Day award goes to Sen. Ron Johnson, who said he would support a vaccine madate for a really deadly disease, but not covid.