Gov. Mike Parson used social media Monday night to encourage Missourians to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
The Republican governor, who has come under fire from some quarters for the state’s tepid response to the pandemic, posted photographs of him and his wife getting vaccinated earlier this year on Twitter.
“After speaking with our family doctor, we both decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine this spring to help protect ourselves, our family, and those we meet across our great state,” Parson tweeted.
“We continue to remain vocal about receiving the vaccine and encouraging Missourians to receive the vaccine,” he wrote.
Unsurprisingly, Parson’s comments drew an immediate backlash from Twitter world. The responses could be summed up as “too little, too late,” but many comments went much further, accusing the GOP governor of incompetence, gaslighting and even murder for his perceived lack of leadership during the pandemic.
Social media isn’t the ideal place to foster a measured and thoughtful discussion on any topic, much less something that sadly has become as politicized as responses to the coronavirus pandemic. The vast majority of COVID-19 anti-vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories are disseminated through social media channels.
Still, Parson’s tweet urging Missourians to get vaccinated is the right message at the right time. It is an unequivocal public statement at a time when our state is experiencing a serious resurgence of the coronavirus: Get the vaccine.
Parson needs to be clear in his messaging right now — and more forceful. He needs to use the bully pulpit to persuade and to combat misinformation.
The resurgence of the coronavirus in our state is troubling. Parson is from southwestern Missouri, which is now the epicenter of the resurgence. He needs to take command and control of the response to this very real public health crisis that is ravaging his home turf.
The best way to do this is to be clear about what is causing the resurgence. It isn’t complicated. The virus is spreading and taking lives because too many people remain unvaccinated. Southwestern Missouri has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. That has to change if the virus is to be contained.
Interestingly, Parson’s tweet came on the same evening that Sean Hannity and several other Fox News hosts threw their support behind COVID-19 vaccines. Hannity took some time out of his broadcast to deliver a direct message to Fox nation, telling them to take the coronavirus pandemic “seriously” and declaring that he believes in the “science of vaccination.”
“Just like we’ve been saying, please take COVID seriously,” Hannity urged. “I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more death.”
Is it a coincidence that both Hannity and Parson shifted gears on the same night to declare that vaccines are the answer? It doesn’t matter; they are both right. Now they both need to say it over and over again.