John Oliver did his best to combat Covid-19 vaccine skepticism and misinformation on Last Week Tonight Sunday, May 2nd.
Noting that the United States is still a long way from herd immunity, and that there’s been a significant dropoff in vaccine demand despite plenty of supply, Oliver stressed the importance of getting as many adults vaccinated as soon as possible. He also called out several prominent figures, including Joe Rogan, Tucker Carlson, and Alex Jones for sowing doubts about the vaccine.
Addressing a fictional everyman, “Mike from Baltimore,” who has yet to get a vaccine, Oliver cracked, “I know you’ve got this on at the background at work on Monday, so listen to me: Schedule your vaccine, Mike! Don’t say you’re gonna ‘look into it later,’ just Google, ‘Vaccine finder Baltimore,’ it takes seconds… And if you’re thinking, ‘Eh, I’m not sure I need it. Joe Rogan says I’m probably fine.’ Look, it is true, you might not get seriously sick from Covid, or indeed sick at all, but you could still inadvertently pass it to someone who could then die.”
Later in the segment, Oliver debunked some of the biggest issues fueling vaccine skepticism, like misinformation about what’s in the vaccine and false claims that it’s more dangerous than Covid-19 itself. Oliver also addressed a major concern people have, that the vaccine was developed too quickly, pointing out that the record timetable was made possible not because of rushed science, but because of years of previous research into other coronaviruses and Operation Warpspeed, which got rid of a lot of red tape.
“They took steps that usually happen sequentially and saved time by running them simultaneously, and to be honest I am envious of that level of efficiency,” Oliver joked. “I would save so much time every morning if I could shit, shower, shave, eat breakfast, kiss my family, and brush my teeth all at the same time. Unfortunately, I’ve only ever managed to do three of them at once, but I’m so close to that fourth one.”
Oliver closed by noting that, while researching this segment, he and his writers were repeatedly told that the vaccine-hesitant don’t usually respond well to celebrities and politicians telling them to get the vaccine. “The truth is, I’m not going to be able to convince the people in your life who are hesitant,” Oliver said. “The person with the best chance of doing that is you. So if you know someone who is worried for whatever reason and you want to convince them otherwise, don’t show them this video — but maybe do try and use some of the information inside it to tell them yourself.”