Persuasion over vaccines proves too much for some leaders


According to a Benton County quorum court vote last week, vaccination warrants aren’t the only pandemic idea some politicians want to stop. Just trying to persuade people of the benefits of vaccines also seems to cross the line.

The Northwest Arkansas Nonprofit Council approached six local government entities – the four largest cities in Washington and Benton counties as well as the two county governments – asking them to pay a prorated share. a 12-month, $ 1.2 million campaign. vaccination clinics and strategic messages. The goal is to reach the estimated 30 percent of Northwestern Arkansas residents who don’t have their heels set against vaccinations, but just aren’t sure they’ll get them yet.

The Northwest Arkansas Council has been for more than 30 years an organization of business and political leaders who have built unity in the pursuit of vital regional goals, whether they are a new airport, the development of Interstate 49 or other projects. The group has played a critical role in mobilizing the region’s resources to help tackle the adverse effects of the pandemic.

On September 28, Rogers City Council approved $ 69,908 in federal covid-19 funding for the Northwest Arkansas council’s ongoing campaign to promote vaccinations. Springdale approved $ 87,176.

On September 30, the Benton County Quorum Court could not muster enough support for its share of $ 113,000. The vote was 9-4. The support of 10 out of 15 members is required to adopt a credit in a single meeting. Other than that, the proposal is due to come back for a second reading next month.

Four justices of the peace – Carrie Perrien Smith, Brian Armas, Joseph Bollinger, and Leigh Nogy – seized an opportunity that arose because another member of the quorum court was unable to attend the meeting and that there is a vacant position. Tom Allen’s absence was a sponsor of the proposal, so his vote would have paved the way for an effort to better understand the benefits of vaccines and address people’s concerns about taking them.

Bollinger, of Bella Vista, said the marketing component of the campaign was one of her biggest concerns.

“I know my constituency, and I recognize that something like that, where it’s a more aggressive sales technique to try to get people to get the shot, it’s not going to resonate in my constituency. “, did he declare.

Of course, a person’s constituency often depends on who you listen to, not just who lives within a political border. County Judge Barry Moehring said Benton County has responsibility for regional leadership and urged support for the NWA council’s program.

“Regarding Bella Vista, Judge Bollinger, with all due respect, Bella Vista is the most vaccinated group here. It is the most vaccinated area. They are fully accepting the vaccine,” said Moehring.

So really we’re not going to spend $ 113,000 – 0.21% – of Benton County’s $ 54 million in federal relief to try to get someone to get the shot?

Bollinger said he “cannot support something that could possibly make someone uncomfortable to feel obligated to do so.”

To be persuaded means that the discomfort fades over the strength of the argument. To change your mind is not to be forced.

Apparently, the best marketing message, if these four members of the College Court had what they wanted, would be, “Vaccines are available. We don’t care if you get them or not.

Moehring told the quorum court that the efforts of the Northwest Arkansas Council had helped avoid warrants.

“This is what helps to move the mandates away. It is to encourage people to educate themselves and get vaccinated. There are still a lot of people who are not educated,” he said.

Hopefully later this month, the quorum court can find that 10th vote so that four of its members cannot stand in the way of a reasonable regional campaign to help lift the two-county region out of the impacts of this pandemic.

Greg Harton is the editorial page editor of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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