Just when you think the Guardian might be improving, some bit of new victim-mongering crops up. The article ‘There is a lot of distrust’: why women in their 30s are hesitant about Covid vaccination‘ was published in the Guardian of Jan 30 2021. The article written by Lucia Osborne-Crowley can be accessed here or by clicking the photo above.
The article responds to the finding that women aged 30-39 were found to be most vaccine-hesitant by Australian health department research. The most likely explanation is that this is very group who are into other ‘wellness’ fads and think they can protect themselves in other ways. This is the same demographic that has not been taking their children along for MMR vaccine. Another factors may be that women have a lower risk of dying of COVID than men and for that reason may view the risk benefit equation differently. Then, of course, there is the problem of feminist influencers. Look at this article reporting Olivia Newton John’s attitude to vaccination. Another recent article in Wired has noted how online conspiracy theories are spreading in Yoga communities. Yoga is predominantly but not exclusively female activity and in turn the attitudes may account for at least some of the observed vaccine hesitancy. You can find the article in Wired here.
Lucia Osborne-Crowley has another explanation and that is that pregnant women were excluded from the first wave vaccine trials and as a result young women felt marginalised by the medical establishment (an establishment that is now predominantly female). The exclusion of pregnant women was a perfectly reasonable decision for a number of reasons and not evidence of oppression or neglect. First, women of reproductive age had the lowest risk of contracting symptomatic COVID and developing a severe illness. What that means is that you would need a bigger trial lasting for longer to demonstrate a meaningful effect. That would have made no sense in a global emergency. Second, in the unlikely event of serious complications from a vaccine about which we know nothing, there would in sense be a double hit – mother and baby. So the policy of initially excluding pregnant women made perfect sense – they are now, having established that the vaccine is safe, being recruited to trials.
The article then goes on to a general moan about women losing out in health even though all the data points in exactly the opposite direction. Spending on women only conditions far exceeds that on those affecting men, for good reviews on this subject see here, here and here.
Suppose that data was the other way round and it was young men who were most vaccine-hesitant what do you think would happen? How would this be reported? We would not be using the word ‘hesitant’ but a more pejorative term – denialist for example. We would not be looking to wider societal factors but attributing the problem to men’s innate badness – toxic masculinity if you like.
Why does the Guardian, formerly a reputable newspaper, publish this crap?