Simon Schama, a professor of history at Columbia University, recently appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show to discuss his new book, titled "Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines and the Health of Nations." In this thought-provoking conversation with Mika Brzezinski, Schama dives into the origins of vaccine distrust that has led many people to forgo inoculation against COVID-19.

Schama emphasizes the role of persuasion in shaping public opinion on vaccines. Despite humanity's remarkable scientific advancements and life-saving discoveries, there exists an unsettling paradox. We are both capable of groundbreaking scientific investigation and burdened by our innate instincts of paranoia, suspicion, conspiracy theories, and cynicism. This unfortunate blend of attributes often politicizes public health matters.

The alarming issue arises when individuals exploit these suspicions for political gain, tarnishing the public's trust in vaccines. Schama expresses his concern over those who choose to capitalize on vaccine hesitancy as a means to achieve their own agenda.

"'Viruses do not vote. Viruses don't care about voting.'" - Simon Schama

In "Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines, and the Health of Nations," Schama delves into the complex interplay between science, public opinion, and political maneuverings surrounding vaccines. This insightful exploration sheds light on the challenges we face as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic and strive to protect our communities.


Simon Schama's latest book provides a captivating examination of the distrust surrounding vaccines and its impact on public health. By dissecting the intricate dynamics between persuasion, scientific progress, and political exploitation, he encourages readers to reflect on the paradoxical nature of humanity. With "Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines, and the Health of Nations," Schama offers a compelling perspective on the complex intersection of science and society.

A Bold Stance Against Booster Shots

In a recent development, Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis, along with his handpicked Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, has taken a strong stance against the new booster shots. Despite the approval and recommendation of these shots by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week, DeSantis and Ladapo are advising Floridians under the age of 65 to refrain from getting vaccinated with them.

It's worth noting that Ladapo has previously advocated for the use of hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic against COVID-19. However, this belief was debunked when scientific evidence proved its ineffectiveness. Offering a counter-perspective, Professor Schama expresses concerns about Ladapo's position, suggesting it may not align with the scientific consensus.

Partisan Divide on Booster Attitudes

Adding to the complexity of the situation is a recent poll highlighting a distressing disparity in opinions regarding the new boosters. The poll reveals a noticeable difference in attitudes between individuals identifying as Republicans and Democrats. This discrepancy emphasizes the challenges faced in achieving a unified approach to combating the virus.

The Need for a New Vaccine

While some refer to the new shot as a booster, experts emphasize that it is essentially a distinct vaccine. This distinction arises from the impact of emerging variants, such as omicron and XBB, which have undergone significant mutations. Consequently, previous natural immunity and booster shots may no longer provide sufficient protection against these evolving variants. The rise in hospitalization cases further emphasizes the urgency of vaccination.

Taking Charge of Our Health

In light of these developments, it is vital to prioritize immunization efforts. Recognizing the importance of leading by example, Professor Schama announced his own plans to get vaccinated later that day. Encouraging others to follow suit, he emphasizes the critical role each individual plays in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

For more detailed information regarding the new COVID-19 vaccine, explore our comprehensive guide: "5 things to know about the new COVID-19 vaccine."

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