covid-19 vaccine

Ron Johnson Makes Dangerously Ignorant Comments on Vaccines

The hammerheaded senior senator from Wisconsin. Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

There’s something about U.S. senator Ron Johnson that consistently earns him contempt for his level of intelligence. Perhaps that’s because, from his surprise elevation to the Senate back in the hyper-Republican election year of 2010, he’s played the businessman-outsider card to a tee, sounding like nothing so much as a caller to a right-wing radio show who is wise to the games played by liberal elites who traffic in “facts” and “logic” and “science.” Just in the last five months, he held a hearing to promote the snake-oil hydroxychloroquine cure for COVID-19 long after Trump abandoned the delusion and insisted the deadly January 6 Capitol riot was sort of a civic version of a fraternity prank (leading Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski to call him “incredibly stupid”).

But now the hammerheaded senior senator from Wisconsin has gone from being laughable to dangerously ignorant in an effort to fight public and private pressure for vaccine-hesitant people to get the damn shot, as Forbes reports:

In an interview with conservative Wisconsin radio host Vicki McKenna, herself a vocal coronavirus vaccine skeptic, Johnson launched into a condemnation of “vaccine passports,” a credential that would allow businesses to verify vaccination status. But Johnson also went a step further, declaring he sees “no reason to be pushing vaccines on people,” arguing their distribution should be “limited” to those most vulnerable to coronavirus, and asking, “if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?”

In raising the red herring of a mandatory “vaccine passport,” Johnson is missing the point. It appears he either hasn’t heard about or doesn’t accept CDC guidance or the underlying science suggesting that the “herd immunity” necessary to end the COVID-19 pandemic very strictly depends on significantly higher numbers of people getting vaccinated whether or not they consider themselves “vulnerable.” So it is very much everyone’s business “if your neighbor has one or not.” And since mandatory vaccination is legally impossible, achieving herd immunity means that responsible opinion leaders should go out of their way to encourage, not discourage, vaccination of the hesitant. That’s particularly true of Johnson, since, as Wisconsin Public Radio points out, “Republican men are the demographic group most likely to say they won’t get vaccinated.” His attitude could help kill untold numbers of people and obstruct the end of the pandemic nightmare. Mitch McConnell is promoting vaccinations. Hell, Donald Trump is promoting vaccinations.

Instead, Johnson claims people like him who have had COVID-19 don’t need the vaccine, which is, in fact, wrong, as the Washington Post quickly noted: “Yes, people who had the disease produce antibodies that provide immunity from the coronavirus. But that immunity fades over time, and the body’s natural response may not be enough to prevent a repeat infection 90 days after the first one, the CDC says.”

In any event, Johnson’s destructive yahooism on vaccines is winning him a fresh round of abuse:

Johnson is not the sort of pol who will lose a moment’s sleep over such denunciations, and if he runs for another term in 2022, he will likely brandish such assessments as a trophy. It’s just a shame the price of “owning the libs” could eventually be counted in lives threatened and lives destroyed.

Ron Johnson Makes Dangerously Ignorant Comments on Vaccines