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Keller @ Large: Vaccinations Are The Latest Battle In Never-Ending Culture Wars

BOSTON (CBS) -- Tuesday marks one year since the vaccine became available. Since then, we've lost a half-million additional COVID victims.

"Many of them are unnecessary deaths because we have up to 60 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not gotten vaccinated," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden.

And a new CBS News/YouGov poll shows how hard it is to change that grim reality.

When the unvaccinated were asked why they still haven't done it, 46% said the vaccine was still too untested, despite the fact that negative side effects have been extremely rare.

And patience with the unvaxxed is wearing thin. Kroger supermarkets, the nation's seventh-largest private employer, is cracking down on unvaccinated employees, slapping a surcharge on their health plans and denying them paid leave if they get COVID.

What's the problem? Mostly it's resistance to the vaccine among Trump supporters that is proving impervious to appeals from the former president. He has publicly urged Americans to get the vaccine at least twice, most recently last summer when he was booed at an Alabama rally for saying "I recommend, take the vaccine, I did it, it's good, take the vaccines."

Trump was booed when he said that last summer, and the CBS poll shows many of his supporters remain unmoved. Twenty-eight percent of 2020 Trump voters say they aren't vaxxed and won't be getting one. Only one percent of Biden voters say the same.

And while only 9 percent of Biden backers agreed that "everyone is only responsible for themselves and should protect or not protect themselves as they see fit," 61 percent of Trump supporters did.

"We have got to be doing better than that if we want to get this thing over with," says Dr. Fauci.

Is this just another symptom of political polarization?

Yes, but it runs deeper than that. In that poll, a majority of conservatives, Republicans, and Trump voters said they were vaccinated.

But for way too many Americans, vaccination has become the latest battle in the never-ending culture wars, just another example of arrogant elites in science, government, and the media trying to impose their will on others, science and reality be damned.

This is identity politics at its worst and most damaging.

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