The Greatest Generation persevered through the Depression, defeated fascism in World War II — and got vaccinated without a lot of BS. I write about this aspect of our parents’ and grandparents’ generation in today’s Sun column. Here’s the link if you want to check it out.
One thing I failed to mention: There was no FOX News back in the day. The Greatest Generation got news of the development of the polio vaccine from reading daily newspapers and by listening to three major television and radio networks. So there was little partisan programming in the 1950s — no disinformation from the Internet, either — and, if you wanted opinions, you read the editorial or op-ed (opposite editorial) page of your local newspaper. That’s another big difference between then and now: People spent time reading newspapers.
The biggest difference, of course, is the politicization of public health.
Look at some of the states where vaccination rates are lowest — Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Idaho, West Virginia, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Texas ranks 34th nationally and Florida is 27th. These are all red states that Donald Trump won in the last two elections; they each have Republican governors. Figures, right? The vaccination rates in those places are absymal, and if the nation experiences a surge of infections from the virus variant it will because so many Americans chose not to get their shots.
The nation is making progress on vaccinations, but it’s coming slowly.
One other thing about the Greatest Generation: The Cutter Disaster of 1955 did not stop Americans back then from getting the polio vaccine. That’s amazing when you consider the scope of that disaster. If this sort of thing happened today, we’d be hearing told-you-so’s from the anti-vaxxers ’til doomsday, and doomsday would be fast approaching.