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Pfizer’s vaccine wins FDA approval, and most Americans will now get the shot. Right?

In truth, we fear, vaccine hesitancy has always been about something culturally deeper. It’s always been about right-wing bonafides and “owning the libs.”

The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday fully approved Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for people 16 and older, a move expected to trigger a new wave of vaccine mandates as the Delta variant batters the country.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday fully approved Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for people 16 and older, a move expected to trigger a new wave of vaccine mandates as the Delta variant batters the country.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

The Food and Drug Administration’s full approval on Monday of a leading COVID-19 vaccine has eliminated a widespread argument — or excuse — against getting vaccinated.

Now we’ll see who really was worried about vaccine safety and who was blowing smoke.

If vaccine safety truly has been a deep concern, we should see a big uptick in folks getting vaccinated now that the FDA has given full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. We should see, as well, a stepped-up move by more businesses, institutions and government agencies to make the vaccine mandatory.

Some 44% of unvaccinated Americans, according to surveys, said they were waiting for that FDA seal of approval. Now they’ve got it.

What will happen in Texas, for example, where Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order this month banning public schools from requiring COVID-19 vaccines? The governor’s ban covered only vaccines being used under emergency federal authorization.

Now that Gov. Abbott’s ban no longer applies to the Pfizer vaccine, will he get out of the way and let good sense prevail?

We’re not holding our breath.

Our view is that vaccine hesitancy, on the part of more than 40% of Americans, generally speaks to something culturally deeper. It’s always been more about maintaining one’s right-wing bonafides and “owning the libs.” It’s a self-defeating mentality that was whipped up and fed by the last president, Donald Trump.

But some people, we fear, are just in too deep now.

Trump himself proved the point on Saturday night when, at a rally in Alabama, he went out of his way to endorse vaccines — it was about time — and got thoroughly booed for the effort.

“I recommend, take the vaccines,” Trump said. “I did it, it’s good. Take the vaccines.”

If Trump couldn’t change hearts and minds at a MAGA rally, we have to wonder how much good the FDA’s seal of approval will do.

Maybe millions more Americans will now get vaccinated. We sure hope so. But lies once told are not easily untold.

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