A woman administers a COVID-19 vaccination to a man seated with his sleeve rolled up

There are plenty of moral reasons to be vaccinated – but that doesn’t mean it’s your ethical duty

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Director of the Master of Bioethics degree program at the Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University

Disclosure statement

Travis N. Rieder does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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With the news that all U.S. adults are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the holy grail of infectious disease mitigation – herd immunity – feels tantalizingly close. If enough people take the vaccine, likely at least 70% of the population, disease prevalence will slowly decline and most of us will safely get back to normal. But if not enough people get vaccinated, COVID-19 could stick around indefinitely.

The urgency of reaching that milestone has led some to claim that individuals have a civic duty or moral obligation to get vaccinated.

As a moral philosopher who has written on the nature of obligation in other contexts, I want to explore how the seemingly straightforward ethics of vaccine choice is in fact rather complex.

The simple argument

The discussion of whether or not one should take the COVID-19 vaccine is often framed in terms of individual self-interest: The benefits outweigh the risk, so you should do it.

That’s not a moral argument.

Most people likely believe that others have wide latitude in determining how they care for their own health, so it can be permissible to engage in risky activities – such as motorcycling or base jumping – even when it’s not in one’s interest. Whether one should get vaccinated, however, is a moral issue because it affects others, and in a couple of ways.

First, effective vaccines are expected to decrease not only rates of infection but also rates of virus transmission . This means that getting the vaccine can protect others from you and contribute to the population reaching herd immunity.

Second, high disease prevalence allows for more genetic mutation of a virus, which is how new variants arise. If enough people aren’t vaccinated quickly, new variants may develop that are more infectious, are more dangerous or evade current vaccines.

The straightforward ethical argument, then, says: Getting vaccinated isn’t just about you. Yes, you have the right to take risks with your own safety. But as the British philosopher John Stuart Mill argued in 1859, your freedom is limited by the harm it could do to others. In other words, you do not have the right to risk other people’s health, and so you are obligated to do your part to reduce infection and transmission rates.

It’s a plausible argument. But the case is rather more complicated.

Individual action, collective good

The first problem with the argument above is that it moves from the claim that “My freedom is limited by the harm it would cause others” to the much more contentious claim that “My freedom is limited by very small contributions my action might make to large, collective harms.”

Refusing to be vaccinated does not violate Mill’s harm principle , as it does not directly threaten some particular other with significant harm. Rather, it contributes a very small amount to a large, collective harm.

Since no individual vaccination achieves herd immunity or eliminates genetic mutation, it is natural to wonder: Could we really have a duty to make such a very small contribution to the collective good?

A version of this problem has been well explored in the climate ethics literature, since individual actions are also inadequate to address the threat of climate change. In that context, a well-known paper argues that the answer is “no”: There is simply no duty to act if your action won’t make a meaningful difference to the outcome.

Others, however, have explored a variety of ways to rescue the idea that individuals must not contribute to collective harms.

One strategy is to argue that small individual actions may actually make a difference to large collective effects, even if it’s difficult to see.

For instance: Although it appears that an individual getting vaccinated doesn’t make a significant difference to the outcome, perhaps that is just the result of uncareful moral mathematics. One’s chance of saving a life by reducing infection or transmission is very small, but saving a life is very valuable. The expected value of the outcome, then, is still high enough to justify taking it to be a moral requirement.

Another strategy concedes that individual actions don’t make a meaningful difference to large, structural problems, but this doesn’t mean morality must be silent with regard to those actions. Considerations of fairness , virtue and integrity all might recommend taking individual action toward a collective goal – even if that action did not by itself make a difference.

In addition, these and other considerations can provide reasons to act , even if they don’t imply an obligation to act.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo walks past students getting vaccinated at Suffolk County Community College

The contours of obligation

There is yet another challenge in justifying an obligation to get vaccinated, which has to do with the very nature of obligations.

Obligations are requirements on actions, and, as such, those actions often seem demandable by members of the moral community. If a person is obligated to donate to charity, then other members of the community have the moral standing to demand a percentage of their income. That money is owed to others.

The relevant question here, then, is: Are there moral grounds to demand another person get vaccinated?

Philosopher Margaret Little has argued that very intimate actions, such as sex and gestation – the continuation of a pregnancy – are not demandable. In my own work, I’ve suggested that this is also true for deciding how to form a family – for example, adopting a child versus procreating. The intimacy of the actions, I argue, make it the case that no one is entitled to them. Someone can ask you for sex, and there are good reasons to adopt rather than procreate; but no one in the community has the moral standing to demand that you do either. These sorts of examples suggest that particularly intimate actions are not the appropriate targets of obligation.

Is getting vaccinated intimate? While it may not appear so at first blush, it involves having a substance injected into your body, which is a form of bodily intimacy. It requires allowing another to puncture the barrier between your body and the world. In fact, most medical procedures are the sort of thing that it seems inappropriate to demand of someone, as individuals have unilateral moral authority over what happens to their bodies.

The argument presented here objects to intimate duties because they seem too invasive. However, even if members of the moral community don’t have the standing to demand that others vaccinate, they are not required to stay silent; they may ask, request or entreat, based on very good reasons. And of course, no one is required to interact with those who decline.

I am certainly not trying to convince anyone that it’s OK not to get vaccinated. Indeed, the arguments throughout indicate, I think, that there is overwhelming reason to get vaccinated. But reasons – even when overwhelming – don’t constitute a duty, and they don’t make an action demandable.

Acting as though the moral case is straightforward can be alienating to those who disagree. And minimizing the moral stakes when we ask others to have a substance injected into their body can be disrespectful. A much better way, I think, is to engage others rather than demand from them, even if the force of reason ends up clearly on one side.

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Persuasive messaging to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions

Erin k. james.

a Yale Institute for Global Health, New Haven, CT, USA

b Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

Scott E. Bokemper

c Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

d Center for the Study of American Politics, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Alan S. Gerber

e Department of Political Science, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Saad B. Omer

f Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA

g Yale School of Nursing, West Haven, CT, USA

Gregory A. Huber

Associated data.

Widespread vaccination remains the best option for controlling the spread of COVID-19 and ending the pandemic. Despite the considerable disruption the virus has caused to people’s lives, many people are still hesitant to receive a vaccine. Without high rates of uptake, however, the pandemic is likely to be prolonged. Here we use two survey experiments to study how persuasive messaging affects COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions. In the first experiment, we test a large number of treatment messages. One subgroup of messages draws on the idea that mass vaccination is a collective action problem and highlighting the prosocial benefit of vaccination or the reputational costs that one might incur if one chooses not to vaccinate. Another subgroup of messages built on contemporary concerns about the pandemic, like issues of restricting personal freedom or economic security. We find that persuasive messaging that invokes prosocial vaccination and social image concerns is effective at increasing intended uptake and also the willingness to persuade others and judgments of non-vaccinators. We replicate this result on a nationally representative sample of Americans and observe that prosocial messaging is robust across subgroups, including those who are most hesitant about vaccines generally. The experiments demonstrate how persuasive messaging can induce individuals to be more likely to vaccinate and also create spillover effects to persuade others to do so as well.

The first experiment in this study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov and can be found under the ID number {"type":"clinical-trial","attrs":{"text":"NCT04460703","term_id":"NCT04460703"}} NCT04460703 . This study was registered at Open Science Framework (OSF) at: https://osf.io/qu8nb/?view_only=82f06ecad77f4e54b02e8581a65047d7.

1. Introduction

The global spread of COVID-19 created an urgent need for safe and effective vaccines against the disease. However, even though several successful vaccines have become available, vaccine hesitancy in the general population has the potential to limit the efficacy of vaccines as a tool for ending the pandemic. For instance, in the United States, the public’s willingness to receive a vaccine has declined from 72 % saying they would be likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine in May 2020 to 60 % of people reporting that they would receive a vaccine as of November 2020 [ 1 ]. Given the considerable amount of skepticism about the safety and efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine, it has become increasingly important to understand how public health communication can play a role in increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

Vaccination is both a self-interested and a prosocial action [ [2] , [3] , [4] , [5] , [6] , [7] , [8] , [9] ]. By getting vaccinated, people protect themselves from a disease, but they also reduce the chance that they become a vector through which the disease spreads to others. If enough people receive a vaccine, the population gains protection through herd immunity, but this also creates an incentive for an individual to not get vaccinated because they can forgo vaccination and receive protection from others who do vaccinate. Recent research on vaccination in general has demonstrated that people view vaccination as a social contract and are less willing to cooperate with those who choose not to get inoculated [ 10 ]. This work also implies that highlighting the reputational costs of choosing not to vaccinate could be an effective strategy for increasing uptake. Further, appeals to herd immunity and the prosocial aspect of vaccination have been shown to increase uptake intentions [ [11] , [12] , [13] ], but emphasizing the possibility of free riding on other’s immunity reduces the willingness to get vaccinated [ 14 ].

Focusing specifically on vaccination against COVID-19, recent studies have found that messages that explain herd immunity increase willingness to receive a vaccine [ 15 ] and reduces the time that people would wait to get vaccinated when a vaccine becomes available to them [ 16 ]. However, other work has found that prosocial appeals did not increase average COVID-19 vaccination intentions [ 17 ] and the effect of prosocial concerns was present in sparsely populated places, but absent in more densely populated ones [ 18 ]. Given the current state of evidence, it is unclear whether appealing to getting a COVID-19 vaccine as a way to protect others will increase willingness to vaccinate.

Viewing vaccination through the lens of a collective action problem suggests that in addition to increasing individuals’ intentions to receive a vaccine, effective public health messages would also increase people’s willingness to encourage those close to them to vaccinate and to hold negative judgments of those who do not vaccinate. By encouraging those close to them to vaccinate, people are both promoting compliance with social norms and increasing their own level of protection against the disease. Also, by judging those who do not vaccinate more negatively, they apply social pressure to others to promote cooperative behavior. This would be consistent with theories of cooperation, like indirect reciprocity or partner choice, that rely on free riders being punished or ostracized for their past actions to encourage prosocial outcomes [ [19] , [20] , [21] , [22] , [23] ]. Thus, effective messaging could have outsized effects on promoting vaccination if it both causes people to vaccinate themselves and to encourage those around them to do so.

We conducted two pre-registered experiments to study how different persuasive messages affect intentions to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, willingness to persuade friends and relatives to receive one, and negative judgments of people who choose not to vaccinate. In the first experiment, we tested the efficacy of a large number of messages against an untreated control condition (see Table 1 for full text of messages). A subgroup of the messages in Experiment 1 drew on this collective action framework of vaccination and emphasized who benefits from vaccination or how choosing not to vaccinate hurts one’s social image. A second subgroup drew on contemporary arguments about restrictions on liberty and economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Experiment 2, we retested the most effective messages from Experiment 1 on a nationally representative sample of American adults. By utilizing this test and re-test design, we guard against false positive results that are observed by chance among the large number of messages tested in Experiment 1. In our analysis of both experiments, we examined whether specific messages were more effective among certain subgroups of the population.

Experimental treatment messages for Experiment 1 and Experiment 2. All messages add the prose in the table to the content of the Baseline informational control. All of the messages in the table were tested in Experiment 1. The messages that are bolded were retested in Experiment 2.

Experiment 1 was fielded in early July 2020. Participants were randomly assigned to either a placebo control condition in which they read a story about the effectiveness of bird feeders or one of eleven treatment messages. The first message is a Baseline informational control condition that describes how it is important to receive a vaccine to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to others. Informational messages have been shown to be effective at increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions [ 24 ]. This message also emphasized that vaccines are safe and estimated to save millions of lives per year. The other messages add additional content to this baseline message.

The subgroup of messages that emphasized collective action varied who would benefit from vaccination or what other people might think of someone who chooses to be a free rider by not vaccinating. Focusing on who benefits from vaccination, the second message invoked Self Interest and reinforced the idea that vaccination is a self-protecting action (“Remember, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single best way to protect yourself from getting sick.”). The third message, Community Interest, instead argued that vaccination is a cooperative action to protect other people (“Stopping COVID-19 is important because it reduces the risk that members of your family and community could get sick and die.”). This message also invoked reciprocity by emphasizing the importance of every-one working together to protect others.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth messages added an invocation of an emotion, Guilt, Embarrassment, or Anger, to the Community Interest message. These messages prompted people to think about how they would feel if they chose not to get vaccinated and spread COVID-19 to someone else in the future. Emotions are thought to play a role in cooperation, either by motivating an individual to take an action because of a feeling that they experience or restraining them from taking an action because of the emotional response it would provoke in others [ [25] , [26] , [27] ]. Further, anticipated emotional states have been shown to promote various health behaviors, like vaccination [ [28] , [29] ].

The seventh and eighth messages evoked concerns about one’s reputation and social image, which influences their attractiveness as a cooperative partner to others. The seventh, a Not Bravery message, reframed the idea that being unafraid of the virus is not a brave action, but instead selfish, and that the way to demonstrate bravery is by getting vaccinated because it shows strength and concern for others (“To show strength get the vaccine so you don’t get sick and take resources from other people who need them more”). The eighth message was a Trust in Science message that highlights that scientists believe a vaccine will be an effective way of limiting the spread of COVID-19. This message suggests that those who do not get vaccinated do not understand science and signal this ignorance to others (“Not getting vaccinated will show people that you are probably the sort of person who doesn’t understand how infection spreads and who ignores or are confused about science.”).

The final three messages drew on concerns about restrictions on freedom and economic activity that were widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic. A pair of messages focused on how vaccination would allow for a restoration of Personal Freedom (“Government policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 limit our freedom of association and movement”) or Economic Freedom (“Government policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have stopped businesses from opening up”). These messages take a value that is commonly invoked in individuals’ decision to not vaccinate [ [30] , [31] ] and reframed vaccination as something that would actually restore freedoms that had been taken away. The final message, Community Economic Benefit, argues that a vaccine will help return people’s financial security and strengthen the economy This message is similar to the Community Interest messages that are described above, but instead focuses on cooperating to restore the economy (“We can all end this outbreak and strengthen the national economy by working together and getting vaccinated”).

2.1. Experiment 1 results

Panel A of Fig. 1 plots the effect of each vaccine message relative to the untreated control group on intention to vaccinate. The intention to vaccinate measure was formed by combining responses to a question about the likelihood of getting a COVID-19 vaccine within the first 3 months that one is available with a question about getting a vaccine within the first year that one is available. Specifically, for respondents who did not answer that they were very likely to vaccinate within the first three months that a vaccine is available to them, we asked how likely they would be to vaccinate within a year. This measure coded those who are very likely in the first three months at the highest value on the scale followed by very likely within a year descending down to very unlikely within the first year. Analyzing the vaccination item separately does not substantively change the results. All outcome variables were scored 0 to 1, with higher values indicating greater willingness to endorse the pro-vaccine action or belief (Underlying regressions appear in Table S1 and unless otherwise noted, all analyses were pre-registered).

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Experiment 1. Messages that frame vaccination as a cooperative action to protect others or emphasize how non-vaccination might negatively affect one’s social image increase reported willingness to advise a friend, and judgment of non-vaccinators. Panel A displays treatment effects for the combined measure of intention to vaccinate, Panel B displays the advise a friend outcome, and Panel C displays the judging a non-vaccinator outcome. Treatment effects for both panels were estimated using OLS regression that included covariates. The effects displayed are a comparison against the placebo control baseline and are presented with 95% confidence intervals. The dashed vertical line is the effect of the Baseline informational control for each outcome.

Compared to the untreated control, the Baseline informational message was associated with modest increases in intention to vaccinate by 0.034 units (95 % CI:0.002, 0.065; p < .05). This effect represents an increase of approximately 6 % in the scale score compared to the outcome in the control condition.

By comparison, the Community Interest, Community Interest + Guilt, Embarrassment, or Anger, Not Bravery, Trust in Science and Personal Freedom messages all produce larger effects, at least qualitatively, than the Baseline informational message on the intention to vaccinate outcome. Effects for the Self-Interest, Economic Freedom, and Community Economic benefit messages were not consistently distinguishable from the untreated control group outcomes, and their effects were indistinguishable from the effects of the Baseline informational message.

The most promising messages were the Not Bravery, Community Interest, and Community Interest + Embarrassment messages. These messages were associated with effects that were statistically distinguishable from the untreated control group (Not Bravery: 0.077 units, 95 % CI: 0.035, 0.119; p < .01, Community Interest: 0.090 units, 95 % CI: 0.050, 0.129; p < .01, Community Interest + Embarrassment: 0.094 units, 95 % CI: 0.054, 0.134; p < .01) at p < .01. Moreover, their effects were always more than twice as large as the Baseline informational treatment and these differences were significant at p < .05 (two-tailed tests). The effects of the Trust in Science message and the Personal Freedom message were not statistically significant when compared to the Baseline informational message.

To put the magnitudes of the effects into context, we re-estimated our analysis after dichotomizing the intended vaccine uptake measure such that those who report they were “somewhat” or “very” likely to get the vaccine, either with three months or a year, are coded as 1 and those who do not are coded 0 (this analysis was not pre-registered). This produced a predicted rate of intended vaccination in the control group of 58.2 %. Respondents who read the Baseline informational message were 7.4 percentage points (95 % CI: 2.9 pp, 12.0 pp; p < .01) more likely to receive a vaccine. Among those assigned to the Not Bravery or Community Interest messages it was predicted to increase by 10.4 percentage points and 12.7 percentage points (Not Bravery: 95 % CI: 4.3 pp, 16.4 pp; p < .01, Community Interest: 95 % CI: 6.7 pp, 18.7 pp; p < .01) respectively, while among those assigned to the Community Interest + Embarrassment message it was predicted to increases by 15.9 percentage points (95 % CI: 10.2 pp, 21.6 pp; p < .01). This last difference was substantively large, representing a proportional increase of 27 % (0.159/0.582) compared to the control condition and a 13 % increase compared to the Baseline informational condition (0.159-0.074)/(0.582 + 0.074).

Turning to the other regarding outcomes that focused on spurring action by others, Panel B plots the effects of each vaccine message relative to the untreated control for advising a friend to receive a vaccine and Panel C plots the effects for negatively judging someone who refuses to receive one. Here, the effect of the Baseline informational intervention was modest and statistically insignificant. However, the Not Bravery, Trust in Science, Personal Freedom, Community Interest, Community Interest + Guilt, and Community Interest + Embarrassment messages had larger effects on both outcomes that were statistically distinguishable from the control outcome.

The most promising message was the Community Interest + Embarrassment message for the advise a friend outcome, which was associated with a 0.09 unit increase in the scale outcome (95 % CI: 0.049, 0.132; p < .01 two-tailed test), an effect that represents an increase of 27 % compared to the mean scale score in the control group. The effect was 0.067 units compared to the Baseline informational message (95 % CI: 0.027, 0.105; p = .001, two-tailed test). We conducted a similar exercise to the one describe above to gauge the relative magnitude of these treatment effects. For the Community Interest + Embarrassment message we estimated a 15 percentage point increase (95 % CI: 0.088, 0.209; p < .01, two tailed test,) in a binary intention to advise others to vaccinate outcome, a proportional increase of 27 % compared to the control group baseline of 53 % (0.15/0.53). This effect was also 6 percentage points larger than the effect of the baseline message (95 % CI: 0.008, 0.121; p = .03, two-tailed test).

The most promising outcome for the negative judgment of non-vaccinators was the Not Bravery message, which had an effect of 0.09 scale points (95 % CI: 0.052, 0.126; p < .01, two-tailed test) compared to the untreated control and 0.072 scale points versus the Baseline information (95 % CI: 0.037, 0.106; p < .01 Baseline message, two-tailed tests). This corresponded to a 21 % increase compared to the scale outcome in the control group (0.09/0.43). These are both substantively and statistically meaningful effects. The Community Interest, Community Interest + Guilt, Community Interest + Embarrassment, Trust in Science, and Personal Freedom messages all produced effects that were statistically distinguishable from the control condition.

We also investigated the robustness of these findings to sample restrictions and whether certain subgroups were more responsive to specific treatment messages (reported in Figures S2-S12 ). Results were generally robust to restricting the sample to those who were over the 10th percentile and under the 90th percentile for completion time. For subgroup analyses, those scoring low in liberty endorsement appeared more responsive to the Baseline treatment and to the Not Bravery message than are those who scored high in liberty endorsement. Those who report being less likely to take risks appeared robustly more responsive to the Not Bravery message than those who were high in risk taking. Those who were high in risk taking appear more responsive to the Personal Freedom message with regard to their own behavioral intentions. Certain groups appeared generically easier to persuade (Democrats rather than Republicans, an important divide that has emerged during the pandemic [ 32 ], and Women rather than Men), but there were no clear differences in which treatments appeared most effective across these groups. We explored the robustness of these subgroup differences in Experiment 2.

Taken together, the most successful messages in Experiment 1 were those that were theoretically motivated by viewing vaccination as a collective action problem. Consistent with previous work that demonstrates that prosocial appeals are effective in promoting vaccination, the Community Interest message and Community Interest + Guilt, Embarrassment, or Anger messages increased COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions. Moving beyond who benefits from vaccination, the Not Bravery and Trust in Science messages that invoked concerns about one’s social image if they choose not to vaccinate also increased uptake intentions. All of the collective action oriented messages increased intentions to advise a friend to vaccinate and negative judgments of those who do not, potentially creating spillover effects that induce others to vaccinate. In addition to this subgroup of messages, we found that reframing vaccination as a way to restore freedom was also effective, though the other messages motivated by contemporary debates about the pandemic were generally no more effective than the Baseline condition.

2.2. Experiment 2 results

Experiment 2 tested the subset of the best performing messages from Experiment 1 on a nationally representative sample in September 2020. Notably, in the several month period between Experiment 1 and Experiment 2, the public had grown increasingly skeptical of a potential COVID-19 vaccine [ 1 ]. Panel A of Fig. 2 plots the effect of each vaccine message, relative to the untreated control group, on the same measure of intention to vaccinate used in Experiment 1. (The model specifications shown in the figure were from our pre-registered specifications, underlying regression appear in Table S2.). Given that we observed the messages from Experiment 1 were effective at increasing vaccine uptake, we pre-registered directional hypotheses for Experiment 2 that tested whether the effects could be replicated on a nationally representative sample. Accordingly, we report one-tailed hypothesis tests and 90 % confidence intervals in the results presented below. Results largely confirmed the patterns observed in Experiment 1.

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Experiment 2. The Not Bravery, Community Interest, and Community Interest + Embarrassment messages increase both intentions to vaccinate and other-regarding outcomes. Panel A displays treatment effects for intentions to vaccinate, Panel B displays the advise a friend, and Panel C displays the judging a non-vaccinator outcomes. Treatment effects for both panels were estimated using OLS regression that included covariates. The effects displayed are a comparison against the placebo control baseline and are presented with 90 % confidence intervals. The dashed vertical line is the effect of the Baseline informational control for each outcome.

The Baseline informational treatment was associated with a modest increase, 0.029 units, in intention to vaccinate (90 % CI: 0.011, 0.046; p < .01, one-tailed test). This effect was a 6 % increase of the observed scale outcome in the untreated control group.

The Community Interest and Community Interest + Embarrassment messages were associated with qualitatively larger effects on intended vaccine uptake. These messages were associated with increases of 0.045 units (90 % CI: 0.021, 0.070; p < .01, one-tailed test) and 0.043 units (90 % CI: 0.019, 0.067; p < .01, one-tailed test), respectively. As with Experiment 1, we recoded those who stated they were “somewhat” or “very” likely to receive the vaccine as 1 and those who did not report that they were likely to receive it as 0 (this analysis was not pre-registered: for consistency we report 90 % confidence intervals). This binary measure produced a predicted rate of intended vaccination in the control group of 51.4 %. Intended uptake was 3.3 percentage points higher in the Baseline information condition (90 % CI: 0.5 pp, 6.0 pp; p < .05, one-tailed test), 3.5 percentage points higher in the Community Interest + Embarrassment condition (90 % CI: −0.1 pp, 7.0 pp; p = .06, one-tailed test), and 5 percentage points higher in the Community Interest condition (90 % CI: 1.3 pp, 0.8.7 pp; p < .05, one-tailed test). The latter effect was proportionally large—10 % compared to the baseline predict rate in the control group (0.050/0.514).

On average, the Not Bravery, Trust in Science, and Personal Freedom messages were approximately as effective as the informational content to which they were added in increasing intention to vaccinate, which differs from Experiment 1 where they modestly outperformed the Baseline informational condition.

Turning to other regarding outcomes, Panel B of Fig. 2 plots effects for advice given to others and Panel C does so for negative judgments of non-vaccinators. The Baseline informational treatment was again associated with statistically significant increases in each outcome. For these outcomes, the Not Bravery, Trust in Science, and both Community Interest messages produced effects that were at least descriptively larger than the Baseline treatment. The effects for the Personal Freedom message were smaller than the Baseline informational treatment, a result that again diverged from Experiment 1.

In terms of advising others to vaccinate, the most effective message was the Community Interest + Embarrassment message, which was also the most effective message in Experiment 1. This effect was 0.07 scale points (90 % CI: 0.043, 0.095; p < .01, one-tailed test), an increase of 14 % compared to the control group average scale score of 0.51 (0.07/0.51). This effect was also statistically distinguishable from the effect of the Baseline informational treatment (difference = 0.045; 90 % CI: 0.020, 0.069; p < .01, one-tailed test). When dichotomizing the advise a friend outcome to better describe the magnitude of the effect, we estimated that the Community interest + Embarrassment message was associated with a 10 percentage point increase (90 % CI: 0.064, 0.140; p < .01, one-tailed test) in intention to advise others to vaccinate compared to the control group, a proportional increase of 27 % compared to the control group baseline of 38 % (0.10/0.38). This effect was approximately 6 points larger than the effect of the Baseline message (90 % CI: 0.026, 0.099; p < .01, one-tailed test).

In terms of judging non-vaccinators, the largest effects were for the Not Bravery and Trust in Science messages, with each effect also statistically distinguishable from the Baseline message. Notably, in this sample the Trust in Science message had large effects on beliefs and actions toward others but appeared ineffective in changing an individual’s own intended vaccination behavior. The Not Bravery message was also the most effective message in this regard in Experiment 1.

We examined three pre-registered differences in subgroup treatment effects to test the patterns observed in Experiment 1. First, confirming Experiment 1 we found that those who did not endorse liberty values were more responsive to the Not Bravery message (compared to the baseline message) than those who endorsed liberty values for the three outcome measures. Second, we did not confirm either preregistered prediction with regard to differences in treatment effects by risk taking that were observed in Experiment 1.

The remaining subgroup comparisons were not pre-registered. Beginning with gender, in comparison to the untreated control, women responded more to the Trust in Science and Community Interest + Embarrassment message than did men (all five outcomes), while men responded more to the Not Bravery and Community Interest (without embarrassment) messages. Democrats were more responsive than Republicans across the board to the different treatment messages, while Republicans appeared to react only to the Community Interest and Community Interest + Embarrassment messages (magnitudes similar to those of Democrats). We observed a similar pattern for differences by baseline vaccine confidence, measured pre-treatment with a multi-item battery of questions [ 33 ]. Those high in vaccine confidence responded to all messages, while those low in confidence responded reliably only to the Community Interest messages.

3. Discussion

Overall, the results point both to a set of effective messages and the potential efficacy of specific messages for some particular subgroups. On average, a simple informational intervention is effective, but it is even more effective to add language framing vaccine uptake as protecting others and as a cooperative action. Not only does emphasizing that vaccination is a prosocial action increase uptake, but it also increases people’s willingness to pressure others to do so, both by direct persuasion and negative judgment of non-vaccinators. The latter social pressure effects may be enhanced by highlighting how embarrassing it would be to infect someone else after failing to vaccinate. The Not Bravery and Trust in Science messages had substantial effects on other regarding outcomes and for some subgroups, but do not appear to be as effective as the Community Interest messages in promoting own vaccination behavior. Importantly, in distinct samples fielded several months apart, the Community Interest, Community Interest + Embarrassment, and the Not Bravery messages produced substantively meaningful increases for all outcomes measures relative to the untreated control, and in some instances did so in comparison to the Baseline information condition.

Our findings are consistent with the idea that vaccination is often treated as a social contract in which people are expected to vaccinate and those who do not are sanctioned [ 10 ]. In addition to messages emphasizing the prosocial element of vaccination, we observed that messages that invoked reputational concerns were successful at altering judgment of those who would free ride on the contributions of others. This work could also help explain why social norm effects appear to overwhelm the incentive to free ride when vaccination rates are higher [ [34] , [35] ]. That is, messages that increased intentions to vaccinate also increased the moralization of non-vaccinators suggesting that they are fundamentally linked to one another. These messages will need to be adapted in specific cultural contexts with relevant partners, such as community leaders.

The robust effect of the Community Interest message advances our current understanding of whether public health messaging that deploys prosocial concerns could be effective at increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake. The results of both experiments presented here support prior work that demonstrated the effectiveness of communication that explains herd immunity on promoting vaccination [ [15] , [16] ]. It also suggests that a detailed explanation of herd immunity may not be necessary to induce prosocial behavior.

Beyond the theoretical contribution, the results have practical implications for vaccine communication strategies for increasing COVID-19 vaccine acceptance. We identified multiple effective messages that provide several evidence-based options to immunization programs as they develop their vaccine communication strategies. Importantly, the insights into differential effectiveness of various messages by subgroup (e.g. men vs women) could inform messaging targeted to specific groups. Understanding heterogeneous treatment effects and the mechanisms that cause differential responses to persuasive messaging strategies requires additional testing and theoretical development. We view this as a promising avenue for future work.

The experiments presented here are not without limitations. First, we measured intentions to vaccinate at a time when a vaccine was not currently available and the effectiveness and side effects of potential vaccines were not known. This also meant that we could not observe actual vaccination behavior, which is ultimately the outcome of interest. While intentions predict behavior in many contexts [ [36] , [37] ] including vaccination [ [38] , [39] , [40] ], past research examining the effect of behavioral nudges on COVID-19 vaccine uptake has produced divergent evidence when testing the effect of the same treatments in the field on behavior and in a survey experiment on a behavioral intention [ 41 ]. This observation highlights the need for field testing messages that have shown to be successful on increasing uptake intentions in survey experiments to ascertain whether they also increase vaccine uptake. It may be that field tests reveal certain messages are particularly less effective than in the survey context, or that messages are uniformly less effective. Second, given the rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, attitudes about vaccines may have changed since the experiments were fielded which could also change the efficacy of the messages that we tested. Third, we cannot be sure whether, or how long, the effects we observe here persist. Finally, we only tested text-based messages, but public health messaging is delivered through many mediums, like public service announcements, videos, and images. Future work can adapt the successful messaging strategies found here and test their efficacy when delivered in alternative formats.

Efforts to vaccinate individuals against COVID-19 are currently underway in the United States and it remains important to convince the mass public of the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that the threshold for herd immunity is reached. Our experiments provide robust evidence that appealing to protecting others has effects on intentions to get vaccinated and to apply social pressure to others to do so as well.

4. Materials and methods

4.1. ethics statement.

The experiments reported here were fielded under an exemption granted by the Yale University IRB. Informed consent was obtained from participants and they were informed that they could stop the study at any time. Data was collected anonymously and contained no personally identifiable information.

4.2. Experiment 1

Participants and Procedure. Participants were recruited by the vendor Luc.id to take a survey. Of those who were recruited, 4,361 participants completed the survey. An examination of attrition during the survey reveals that attrition was balanced across groups which minimizes concerns that the treatment effects estimated in the main manuscript are affected by attrition. The survey was programmed using the survey software Qualtrics. The survey was fielded between July 3, 2020 and July 8, 2020.

Experimental Design. Participants first completed basic demographic and pre-treatment attitudinal questions and were asked about their experience with COVID-19. After this, participants read a treatment message. They were required to spend at least 20 s on the survey page that contained the message to given them an adequate amount of time to read it. We allocated 2/15 of the sample to the untreated control condition and 1/5 of the sample to the Information baseline condition due to the number of comparisons that would utilize these conditions. Each of the remaining conditions received 1/15 of the sample. The design and analysis were pre-registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (protocol ID: 2000027983).

Outcome Measures. For COVID-19 vaccine uptake intentions, participants were asked “How likely are you to get a COVID-19 vaccine within the first 3 months that it is available to you?” and “How likely are you to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the first year that it is available to you?” Respondents answered this question on a five-point scale with end points of “Extremely unlikely” and “Extremely likely.” The main text describes how these items were combined for analysis. Turning to the likelihood of advising someone to vaccinate, respondents were asked “How likely are you to advise a close friend or relative to get vaccinated against COVID-19 once a vaccine becomes available?” Respondents also answered this question on a five-point scale with end points of “Extremely unlikely” and “Extremely likely.” Finally, for judging someone who chooses not to vaccinate, respondents read “we would like you to think about a friend or relative who chose not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available. What would you think about this person? Are they…”. This prompt was followed by four traits: trustworthy, selfish, likeable, and competent. The response options were “not at all”, “slightly”, “somewhat”, “mostly”, and “very.”

Analysis. We used OLS regression with robust Huber-White standard errors and indicators for assigned treatment to estimate treatment effects. We use robust standard errors to address the heteroscedasticity observed when estimating our primary analysis models without them. We included covariates as described in the Supplementary Materials . Comparisons across treatments are from linear combination of coefficients tests. For the subgroup analyses, we restricted the sample to the stated criteria and estimate the model specified here on the subsample. For liberty endorsement and risk taking, we determined who was high and low by splitting the sample at the mean.

4.3. Experiment 2

Participants and Procedure. Participants ( n  = 5,014) were recruited by the vendor YouGov/Polimetrix. YouGov provides subjects using a sampling procedure that is designed to match a number of Census demographics. To determine the sample size, we conducted a power analysis to detect effects that were 80 % as large as those observed in Experiment 1. The experiment was fielded between September 9, 2020 and September 22, 2020.

Experimental Design. Participants first completed basic demographic and pre-treatment attitudinal questions and were asked about their experience with COVID-19. Participants were randomly assigned to one of seven conditions: the untreated control, the Information baseline control, Community Interest, Community Interest + Anticipated Embarrassment, Not Bravery, Trust in Science, or Personal Freedom. As in Experiment 1, more participants were assigned to the untreated control condition and the Baseline information control condition, 1/5 and 3/10 of the sample respectively. The remaining five conditions each received 1/10 of the sample. Participants were required to spend at least 30 s on the survey page that had the treatment message. The design and analysis were pre-registered at Open Science Framework.

Outcome Measures. The outcome measurement was the same as described in Experiment 1 with the exception of intelligent being added to the judgment of a non-vaccinator scale.

Analysis. We used the same modeling approach described above to produce the results displayed in Fig. 2 . We included covariates as described in the Supplementary Materials . For subgroup analyses, we estimated OLS regression models with an indicator variable if a person was a member of a subgroup (e.g. high endorsement of liberty) and zero otherwise.

CRediT authorship contribution statement

Erin K. James: Conceptualization, Writing- original draft, Writing- review and editing. Scott E. Bokemper: Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analyses. Alan S. Gerber: Conceptualization, Writing- review and editing. Saad B. Omer: Conceptualization, Writing- review and editing. Gregory A. Huber: Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analyses, Writing- original draft, Writing- review and editing.

Declaration of Competing Interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.


The authors would like to acknowledge support for the Tobin Center for Economic Policy at Yale University. EKJ and SBO were supported by the Yale Institute for Global Health.

SEB, ASG, and GAH received support from the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and the Center for the Study of American Politics at Yale University.

Appendix A Supplementary data to this article can be found online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.10.039 .

Appendix A. Supplementary material

The following are the Supplementary data to this article:

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An Overview of the Vaccine Debate

Looking at Both Sides of the Argument

There is a wealth of research demonstrating the efficacy and safety of vaccines —including how some have virtually eradicated infectious diseases that once killed millions. However, this has done little to sway those who believe that untold harms are being hidden from the American public.

The vaccine debate—including the argument as to whether vaccines are safe, effective, or could cause conditions like autism —has received a lot of attention from the media in recent years. With so much conflicting information being publicized, it can be a challenge to discern what is true and what is not. Therefore, it is important to learn the facts before making health decisions.

Claims and Controversy

Those who are part of the anti-vaccination movement include not only non-medical professionals but several scientists and healthcare providers who hold alternative views about vaccines and vaccination in general.

Some notable examples include:

  • British healthcare provider Andrew Wakefield, who in 1998 published research linking the MMR vaccine and autism . That study has since been retracted, and he was later removed from the medical registry in the United Kingdom for falsifying scientific data.
  • Pediatrician Bob Sears, who wrote the bestseller "The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for your Child ," which suggested that many essential childhood vaccines were "optional." However, he was subsequently put on probation by the Medical Review Board of California in 2018 for alleged medical negligence and the inappropriate writing of medical exemptions for vaccinations.
  • Dr. Jane M. Orient, director of the Association of American Healthcare Providers and Surgeons, who was among the leading opponents of the COVID-19 vaccine and one of the leading proponents of using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 during the pandemic.

These opposing views and claims, along with other information promoted by the news and social media, have led some people to question whether they know everything they need to know about vaccines.

Common Concerns Regarding Vaccines

The arguments made against vaccines are not new and have been made well before the first vaccine was developed for smallpox back in the 18th century.

The following are some of the common arguments against vaccines:

  • Vaccines contain "toxic" ingredients that can lead to an assortment of chronic health conditions such as autism.
  • Vaccines are a tool of "Big Pharma," in which manufacturers are willing to profit off of harm to children.
  • Governments are "pharma shills," meaning they are bought off by pharmaceutical companies to hide cures or approve drugs that are not safe.
  • A child’s immune system is too immature to handle vaccines , leading the immune system to become overwhelmed and trigger an array of abnormal health conditions.
  • Natural immunity is best , suggesting that a natural infection that causes disease is "better" than receiving a vaccine that may cause mild side effects.
  • Vaccines are not tested properly , suggesting a (highly unethical) approach in which one group of people is given a vaccine, another group is not, and both are intentionally inoculated with the same virus or bacteria.
  • Infectious diseases have declined due in part to improved hygiene and sanitation , suggesting that hand-washing and other sanitary interventions are all that are needed to prevent epidemics.
  • Vaccines cause the body to "shed" virus , a claim that is medically true, although the amount of shed virus is rarely enough to cause infection.

The impact of anti-vaccination claims has been profound. For example, it has led to a resurgence of measles in the United States and Europe, despite the fact that the disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. back in 2000.

Studies have suggested that the anti-vaccination movement has cast doubt on the importance of childhood vaccinations among large sectors of the population. The added burden of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to further declines in vaccination rates.

There is also concern that the same repercussions may affect COVID-19 vaccination rates—both domestically and abroad. Ultimately, vaccine rates must be high for herd immunity to be effective.

According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of complete recommended vaccination among babies age 5 months has declined from 66.6% in 2016 to 49.7% by May 2020. Declines in vaccination coverage were seen in other age groups as well.

Benefits of Vaccination

Of the vaccines recommended by the CDC, the benefits of immunization are seen to overwhelmingly outweigh the potential risks. While there are some people who may need to avoid certain vaccines due to underlying health conditions, the vast majority can do so safely.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are five important reasons why your child should get the recommended vaccines:

  • Immunizations can save your child’s life . Consider that polio once killed up to 30% of those who developed paralytic symptoms. Due to polio vaccination, the disease is no longer a public health concern in the United States.
  • Vaccination is very safe and effective . Injection site pain and mild, flu-like symptoms may occur with vaccine shots. However, serious side effects , such as a severe allergic reaction, are very rare.
  • Immunization protects others . Because respiratory viruses can spread easily among children, getting your child vaccinated not only protects your child but prevents the further spread of disease.
  • Immunizations can save you time and money . According to the non-profit Borgen Project, the average cost of a measles vaccination around the world is roughly $1.76, whereas the average cost of treating measles is $307. In the end, the cost of prevention is invariably smaller than the cost of treatment.
  • Immunization protects future generations . Smallpox vaccinations have led to the eradication of smallpox . Rubella (German measles) vaccinations have helped eliminate birth defects caused by infection of pregnant mothers in the developed world. With persistence and increased community uptake, measles could one day be declared eliminated (again) as well.

A Word From Verywell

If you have any questions or concerns about vaccinations, do not hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider or your child's pediatrician.

If a vaccine on the immunization schedule has been missed, speak to a healthcare provider before seeking the vaccination on your own (such as at a pharmacy or clinic). In some cases, additional doses may be needed.

Vaccines Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

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Eggerton L.  Lancet retracts 12-year-old article linking autism to MMR vaccines .  CMAJ . 2010 Mar 9; 182(4):e199-200. doi:10.1503/cmaj.109-3179

Park A. Doctor behind vaccine-autism link loses license . Time .

Offit PA, Moser CA.  The problem with Dr Bob's alternative vaccine schedule .  Pediatrics.  2009 Jan;123 (1):e164-e169. doi:10.1542/peds.2008-2189

Before the Medical Board of California, Department of Consumer Affairs, State of California. In the Matter of the Accusation Against Robert William Sears, M.D., Case No. 800-2015-012268 .

Stolberg SG. Anti-vaccine doctor has been invited to testify before Senate committee . The New York Times.

Wolfe RM, Sharp LK.  Anti-vaccinationists past and present . BMJ. 2002;325(7361):430-2. doi:10.1136/bmj.325.7361.430

Agley J, Xiao Y. Misinformation about COVID-19: Evidence for differential latent profiles and a strong association with trust in science . BMC Public Health. 2021;21:89. doi:10.1186/s12889-020-10103-x

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles history .

Hussain A, Ali S, Ahmed M, Hussain S. The anti-vaccination movement: a regression in modern medicine .  Cureus . 2018;10(7): e2919. doi:10.7759/cureus.2919

Bramer CA, Kimmins LM, Swanson R, et al. Decline in child vaccination coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic — Michigan Care Improvement Registry, May 2016–May 2020 . MMWR. 2020 May;69(20):630-1. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6920e1

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why vaccinate .

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Poliomyelitis .

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Making the vaccine decision .

Borgen Project. What is the cost of measles in the developed world? .

By Vincent Iannelli, MD  Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years. 

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Persuasive Essay Guide

Persuasive Essay About Covid19

Caleb S.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay About Covid19 | Examples & Tips

11 min read

Published on: Feb 22, 2023

Last updated on: Nov 22, 2023

Persuasive Essay About Covid19

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Are you looking to write a persuasive essay about the Covid-19 pandemic?

Writing a compelling and informative essay about this global crisis can be challenging. It requires researching the latest information, understanding the facts, and presenting your argument persuasively.

But don’t worry! with some guidance from experts, you’ll be able to write an effective and persuasive essay about Covid-19.

In this blog post, we’ll outline the basics of writing a persuasive essay . We’ll provide clear examples, helpful tips, and essential information for crafting your own persuasive piece on Covid-19.

Read on to get started on your essay.

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Steps to Write a Persuasive Essay About Covid-19

Here are the steps to help you write a persuasive essay on this topic, along with an example essay:

Step 1: Choose a Specific Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement should clearly state your position on a specific aspect of COVID-19. It should be debatable and clear. For example:

Step 2: Research and Gather Information

Collect reliable and up-to-date information from reputable sources to support your thesis statement. This may include statistics, expert opinions, and scientific studies. For instance:

  • COVID-19 vaccination effectiveness data
  • Information on vaccine mandates in different countries
  • Expert statements from health organizations like the WHO or CDC

Step 3: Outline Your Essay

Create a clear and organized outline to structure your essay. A persuasive essay typically follows this structure:

  • Introduction
  • Background Information
  • Body Paragraphs (with supporting evidence)
  • Counterarguments (addressing opposing views)

Step 4: Write the Introduction

In the introduction, grab your reader's attention and present your thesis statement. For example:

Step 5: Provide Background Information

Offer context and background information to help your readers understand the issue better. For instance:

Step 6: Develop Body Paragraphs

Each body paragraph should present a single point or piece of evidence that supports your thesis statement. Use clear topic sentences, evidence, and analysis. Here's an example:

Step 7: Address Counterarguments

Acknowledge opposing viewpoints and refute them with strong counterarguments. This demonstrates that you've considered different perspectives. For example:

Step 8: Write the Conclusion

Summarize your main points and restate your thesis statement in the conclusion. End with a strong call to action or thought-provoking statement. For instance:

Step 9: Revise and Proofread

Edit your essay for clarity, coherence, grammar, and spelling errors. Ensure that your argument flows logically.

Step 10: Cite Your Sources

Include proper citations and a bibliography page to give credit to your sources.

Remember to adjust your approach and arguments based on your target audience and the specific angle you want to take in your persuasive essay about COVID-19.

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Examples of Persuasive Essay About Covid19

When writing a persuasive essay about the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s important to consider how you want to present your argument. To help you get started, here are some example essays for you to read:

Check out some more PDF examples below:

Persuasive Essay About Covid-19 Pandemic

Sample Of Persuasive Essay About Covid-19

Persuasive Essay About Covid-19 In The Philippines - Example

If you're in search of a compelling persuasive essay on business, don't miss out on our “ persuasive essay about business ” blog!

Examples of Persuasive Essay About Covid-19 Vaccine

Covid19 vaccines are one of the ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but they have been a source of controversy. Different sides argue about the benefits or dangers of the new vaccines. Whatever your point of view is, writing a persuasive essay about it is a good way of organizing your thoughts and persuading others.

A persuasive essay about the Covid-19 vaccine could consider the benefits of getting vaccinated as well as the potential side effects.

Below are some examples of persuasive essays on getting vaccinated for Covid-19.

Covid19 Vaccine Persuasive Essay

Persuasive Essay on Covid Vaccines

Interested in thought-provoking discussions on abortion? Read our persuasive essay about abortion blog to eplore arguments!

Examples of Persuasive Essay About Covid-19 Integration

Covid19 has drastically changed the way people interact in schools, markets, and workplaces. In short, it has affected all aspects of life. However, people have started to learn to live with Covid19.

Writing a persuasive essay about it shouldn't be stressful. Read the sample essay below to get idea for your own essay about Covid19 integration.

Persuasive Essay About Working From Home During Covid19

Searching for the topic of Online Education? Our persuasive essay about online education is a must-read.

Examples of Argumentative Essay About Covid 19

Covid-19 has been an ever-evolving issue, with new developments and discoveries being made on a daily basis.

Writing an argumentative essay about such an issue is both interesting and challenging. It allows you to evaluate different aspects of the pandemic, as well as consider potential solutions.

Here are some examples of argumentative essays on Covid19.

Argumentative Essay About Covid19 Sample

Argumentative Essay About Covid19 With Introduction Body and Conclusion

Looking for a persuasive take on the topic of smoking? You'll find it all related arguments in out Persuasive Essay About Smoking blog!

Examples of Persuasive Speeches About Covid-19

Do you need to prepare a speech about Covid19 and need examples? We have them for you!

Persuasive speeches about Covid-19 can provide the audience with valuable insights on how to best handle the pandemic. They can be used to advocate for specific changes in policies or simply raise awareness about the virus.

Check out some examples of persuasive speeches on Covid-19:

Persuasive Speech About Covid-19 Example

Persuasive Speech About Vaccine For Covid-19

You can also read persuasive essay examples on other topics to master your persuasive techniques!

Tips to Write a Persuasive Essay About Covid-19

Writing a persuasive essay about COVID-19 requires a thoughtful approach to present your arguments effectively. 

Here are some tips to help you craft a compelling persuasive essay on this topic:

Choose a Specific Angle

Start by narrowing down your focus. COVID-19 is a broad topic, so selecting a specific aspect or issue related to it will make your essay more persuasive and manageable. For example, you could focus on vaccination, public health measures, the economic impact, or misinformation.

Provide Credible Sources 

Support your arguments with credible sources such as scientific studies, government reports, and reputable news outlets. Reliable sources enhance the credibility of your essay.

Use Persuasive Language

Employ persuasive techniques, such as ethos (establishing credibility), pathos (appealing to emotions), and logos (using logic and evidence). Use vivid examples and anecdotes to make your points relatable.

Organize Your Essay

Structure your essay involves creating a persuasive essay outline and establishing a logical flow from one point to the next. Each paragraph should focus on a single point, and transitions between paragraphs should be smooth and logical.

Emphasize Benefits

Highlight the benefits of your proposed actions or viewpoints. Explain how your suggestions can improve public health, safety, or well-being. Make it clear why your audience should support your position.

Use Visuals -H3

Incorporate graphs, charts, and statistics when applicable. Visual aids can reinforce your arguments and make complex data more accessible to your readers.

Call to Action

End your essay with a strong call to action. Encourage your readers to take a specific step or consider your viewpoint. Make it clear what you want them to do or think after reading your essay.

Revise and Edit

Proofread your essay for grammar, spelling, and clarity. Make sure your arguments are well-structured and that your writing flows smoothly.

Seek Feedback 

Have someone else read your essay to get feedback. They may offer valuable insights and help you identify areas where your persuasive techniques can be improved.

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Common Topics for a Persuasive Essay on COVID-19 

Here are some persuasive essay topics on COVID-19:

  • The Importance of Vaccination Mandates for COVID-19 Control
  • Balancing Public Health and Personal Freedom During a Pandemic
  • The Economic Impact of Lockdowns vs. Public Health Benefits
  • The Role of Misinformation in Fueling Vaccine Hesitancy
  • Remote Learning vs. In-Person Education: What's Best for Students?
  • The Ethics of Vaccine Distribution: Prioritizing Vulnerable Populations
  • The Mental Health Crisis Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • The Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 on Healthcare Systems
  • Global Cooperation vs. Vaccine Nationalism in Fighting the Pandemic
  • The Future of Telemedicine: Expanding Healthcare Access Post-COVID-19

In search of more inspiring topics for your next persuasive essay? Our persuasive essay topics blog has plenty of ideas!

To sum it up,

You have read good sample essays and got some helpful tips. You now have the tools you needed to write a persuasive essay about Covid-19. So don't let the doubts stop you, start writing!

If you need professional writing help, don't worry! We've got that for you as well.

MyPerfectWords.com is a professional essay writing service that can help you craft an excellent persuasive essay on Covid-19. Our experienced essay writer will create a well-structured, insightful paper in no time!

So don't hesitate and get in touch with our persuasive essay writing service today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any ethical considerations when writing a persuasive essay about covid-19.

Yes, there are ethical considerations when writing a persuasive essay about COVID-19. It's essential to ensure the information is accurate, not contribute to misinformation, and be sensitive to the pandemic's impact on individuals and communities. Additionally, respecting diverse viewpoints and emphasizing public health benefits can promote ethical communication.

What impact does COVID-19 have on society?

The impact of COVID-19 on society is far-reaching. It has led to job and economic losses, an increase in stress and mental health disorders, and changes in education systems. It has also had a negative effect on social interactions, as people have been asked to limit their contact with others.

Caleb S. (Persuasive Essay, Literature)

Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.

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Trump’s Lawyer Walked Into a Trap

By the end of the argument, everyone knew it.

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Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET on January 11, 2024.

It was a cold and rainy morning in Washington, D.C., yesterday. Five years ago, Donald Trump said that was enough to deter him from visiting Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, to commemorate the fallen American soldiers—soldiers who died defending the nation whose Constitution he had sought to abrogate but now seeks to invoke. But yesterday, he showed up anyway. Appearing in court was more important to him, because this was about him.

And so at 9:25 a.m., the former president and his entourage strode into Courtroom 31 of the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse on Constitution Avenue, just a few blocks away from the Capitol his supporters had ransacked three years ago Saturday, and took their seats. It took just a few short minutes for their case to come completely apart.

The wood-paneled walls of the courtroom display large official portraits of many of the renowned judges who have served on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, known colloquially as the D.C. Circuit and long considered to be the second-most important appellate court in the land. The faces gazing down from the walls were mostly male, with a couple of exceptions. Near the front on the left side, Ruth Bader Ginsburg , wearing a trademark jabot, had one of the better views, directly overlooking the bench, counsel table, and podium. I envied her vantage point; from her perch, I could have seen the expressions of all the players, including the defendant. I found it hard not to wonder what she would have thought of these proceedings.

No doubt she would have approved of the panel of judges who heard the case: three women, of differing backgrounds and of fine reputations, each sworn to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and the rich.” The question these jurists faced in the appeal they heard yesterday—styled United States of America v. Donald J. Trump , No. 23–3228 —came down to whether justice could be administered to a former president of the United States.

Everyone rose, including Trump, as the women in black robes entered the courtroom. The court quickly got to work . D. John Sauer, a former solicitor general of Missouri (appointed by then–state Attorney General Josh Hawley), an advocate with an exceptionally gravelly voice that runs as fast as any New Yorker’s, stepped to the podium to speak for Trump.

From the October 2023 issue: The courtroom is a very unhappy place for Donald Trump

Before he could say anything, the presiding judge, Karen LeCraft Henderson , a George H. W. Bush appointee who nearly a quarter century ago had taken Ken Starr’s seat on the court, immediately asked Sauer whether the court had jurisdiction to hear the appeal. This wasn’t an issue the parties raised—it surfaced in a friend-of-the-court brief —but the judges understandably wanted to hear what the parties had to say about it.

In a nutshell, the jurisdictional question arose from the fact that the federal courts strongly disfavor “interlocutory” appeals—challenges to district-court rulings before the district court finally decides the whole case. That disfavor can be overcome, on occasion, for appeals of so-called collateral orders: orders deciding issues that are sufficiently divorced from the ultimate merits of the case and that might be effectively unreviewable in a later appeal after a final judgment. In a case called Midland Asphalt Corp. v. United States , the Supreme Court made clear that the collateral-order exception must be narrowly construed, particularly in criminal cases. No court has ever addressed how Midland Asphalt applies to a criminal prosecution of a former president for acts he committed in office.

Sauer, as expected, argued that the exception does apply, and that the court could hear the appeal. I say “expected” because it could be no other way for his client: If this appeal were dismissed, Trump would not be able to pursue his claim of immunity from prosecution until after he is (as I admittedly hope he will be) convicted and sentenced.

The panel member seemingly most interested in the jurisdictional question was Judge J. Michelle Childs , a Biden appointee who, before joining the D.C. Circuit, had served for 12 years as a federal district judge in South Carolina. Midland Asphalt states that defendants can’t make interlocutory criminal appeals raising issues of immunity from prosecution unless there’s “an explicit statutory or constitutional guarantee that trial will not occur.” Childs’s questions focused on the fact that, whether or not Trump has immunity, the guarantee that he’s relying on isn’t “explicit”—he argues that it’s inherent in the separation of powers. Sauer didn’t have much of a response to this line of inquiry, other than to say, in effect, that presidential immunity claims are special, and that explicit didn’t really mean “explicit.” He did get a little help, though, from Judge Henderson, who made the suggestion that Midland Asphalt was itself only a suggestion from the Supreme Court.

But the jurisdictional back-and-forth was merely a sideshow; what everyone came to hear was the merits of Trump’s immunity argument, and the court’s reaction to it. Sauer and the judges soon obliged. Sauer warned, in effect, that the heavens would fall— ruat caelum , for fanciers of Latin legal axioms — were his client tried for his crimes. “To authorize the prosecution of a president for his official acts would open a Pandora’s box from which this nation may never recover.” He elaborated: “Could George W. Bush be prosecuted for obstruction of an official proceeding for allegedly giving false information to Congress to induce the nation to go to war in Iraq under false pretenses? Could President Obama be potentially charged with murder for allegedly authorizing drone strikes targeting U.S. citizens located abroad?”

Sauer never got the chance to answer his own rhetorical questions, because at this point, the panel’s most incisive and persistent questioner jumped in. “Can I explore the implications of what you are arguing?” inquired Judge Florence Y. Pan , a Biden appointee and longtime federal prosecutor in the nation’s capital who also served on the Superior Court as well as the United States District Court there. “I understand your position to be that a president is immune from criminal prosecution for any official act, even if that action is taken for an unlawful or unconstitutional purpose. Is that correct?”

Sauer’s answer: Yes, but with an exception. The exception being that, if a president is impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate, then and only then can he be prosecuted in a criminal court, after he leaves office, for the offenses for which the Senate had convicted him.

This was not a great answer. As I wrote a couple of days ago about Trump’s Supreme Court certiorari petition in his Colorado ballot-disqualification case, appellate courts usually don’t find convincing a litigant’s efforts to combine two weak points in order to make a stronger one. Usually, the weakness in one bad argument bleeds into the other, and vice versa—producing a sum that is even less than its parts. And that’s what happened here.

As Judge Pan’s question pointed out, Trump’s main argument on this appeal is that presidents can’t be prosecuted for their official acts. That argument is based on a line of civil cases establishing that presidents can’t be held liable via monetary damages for their official actions—more specifically, as the Supreme Court held in 1982 in Nixon v. Fitzgerald , there is “absolute Presidential immunity from damages liability for acts within the ‘outer perimeter’ of his official responsibility.”

I know a fair bit about this line of precedent, because (in what seems now to be another life ), I ghostwrote the Supreme Court brief for Paula Jones that defeated President Bill Clinton’s claim of immunity, 9–0, in Clinton v. Jones in 1997. Suffice it to say that the rationale behind Fitzgerald encompasses only civil liability because it is grounded in the fear that, if presidents could be hauled into civil court by the countless people affected by their official acts, then the leader of the free world might fear doing his or her job. And even if this protection from civil-damages liability could be extended into the criminal realm, it surely oughtn’t apply here, where Trump was not only acting beyond the “outer perimeter” of his official responsibility, but utterly abjuring that official responsibility.

Still, Trump’s immunity argument is at least an argument: Not a good one, not a winner, but not completely and totally ridiculous. I can’t say it wasn’t worth the old college try. The same cannot be said about the other major contention Trump has urged on this appeal, the argument that Sauer took to conflating with the immunity argument in response to Judge Pan’s questioning.

That second argument relies on what’s called the Constitution’s impeachment-judgment clause, in Article I, Section 3. That provision, in its entirety, says (with the relevant part italicized):

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

By its express terms, all this language does is make sure everyone understands that double-jeopardy protections don’t apply when a federal public official is impeached, convicted, and removed from office. The clause makes clear that the official may still go to jail—that he remains “subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment” even after he is removed from his job.

But Trump’s lawyers contend that this text says something it absolutely does not say: that, if a public official, namely the president, is not impeached and removed by Congress, then he cannot be prosecuted under criminal law. This is fallacious reasoning by “negative inference,” as Judge Childs dismissively put it, and it’s absurd for any number of reasons even apart from the plain meaning of the English language the clause uses. For one thing, a wealth of historical evidence contradicts the argument. As Justice Joseph Story explained in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States , even after an acquittal at an impeachment trial, the accused should still be liable to face a criminal trial, for “if no such second trial could be had, then the grossest official offenders might escape without any substantial punishment, even for crimes.”

David A. Graham: The cases against Trump: a guide

For another, a public official might be acquitted in the Senate for reasons other than the merits of the impeachment charges against him. In fact, that’s exactly what happened at Trump’s second impeachment trial. As Special Counsel Jack Smith noted in his D.C. Circuit brief , “At least 31 of the 43 Senators who voted to acquit the defendant”—Trump—“explained that their decision to do so rested in whole or in part on their agreement with the defendant’s argument that the Senate lacked jurisdiction to try him because he was no longer in office.” Worse yet, as Henderson and Pan later pointed out during the argument, Trump’s own lawyers conceded to the Senate in February 2021 that, even if Trump were not convicted on the impeachment charges, he could still be criminally charged. Oops.

I could go on about the impeachment-judgment clause, and the members of the panel certainly did, but the bottom line is that Trump’s argument about that clause was frivolous, and not worth making. In fact, Sauer, by extending that argument to make a limited concession to Pan’s questioning about whether he was arguing that presidents could never be criminally prosecuted—remember, he said that this could happen if the president is first convicted by the Senate—unwittingly set a nasty trap for himself.

A trap that Pan’s brilliant interrogation shut tight.

The judge wasted no time in drilling into the implications and inconsistencies in Sauer’s position. Pan asked, incredulously, “Could a president order SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival? That’s an official act—an order to SEAL Team Six.”

To which Sauer replied, unresponsively, that a president would quickly be impeached and removed for that. This was followed by more unresponsive words from Sauer.

Pan wanted an answer—to the question she had asked.

Pan: I asked you a yes-or-no question. Could a president who ordered SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival [and] who was not impeached, would he be subject to criminal prosecution? Sauer: If he were impeached and convicted first— Pan: So your answer is no? Sauer: My answer is a qualified yes.

The filibustering then continued, with Sauer rambling on about Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel memorandums, James Madison, the abuse of the criminal process. Many words.

Pan interrupted again: “I asked you a series of hypotheticals about criminal actions that could be taken by a president and could be considered official acts and have asked you: Would such a president be subject to criminal prosecution if he’s not impeached and convicted? And your answer, your yes-or-no answer, is no?”

Sauer, realizing he was being cornered somehow, tried to avoid the door closing behind him. But Pan was having none of it. Like the experienced prosecutor she is, she insisted on an answer, and wasn’t going to let go. (If this judging thing doesn’t work out for her, I’d love to see her host Meet the Press someday.)

She and Sauer went around and around on this a few more times. But the damage was done, and Pan’s point was devastatingly made—in essence, that Sauer was arguing out of both sides of his mouth. On the one hand, Sauer argued that the Constitution gave the president absolute immunity for his official acts, lest we have political prosecutions of former presidents. On the other hand, if the United States Congress—a political body if ever there was one—effectively gives permission (by impeaching and convicting), well, then, yes, a president can be prosecuted, and—wait for it—he’s not absolutely immune.

It’s hard to know whether the criminal defendant, sitting at the counsel table, could understand enough of the dialogue to know that his immunity argument had completely collapsed, right then and there. But it had.

Sometimes during appellate arguments, there’s a moment when you know exactly how the court will come out. And this was one. I once had such a moment, fortunately in my favor. My one and only argument before the U.S. Supreme Court was in a case about whether federal securities laws could impose liability for securities transactions occurring abroad. I was arguing in the negative, on behalf of an Australian bank. My opponent was up first, arguing in favor of applying American law. I figured I had the conservative justices, but I was a bit less sure about the more liberal justices.

After some preliminary questions to my adversary about jurisdiction, the Court got to the merits. I’ll never forget it. Justice Ginsburg asked a question that was more like a statement: “This case is Australian plaintiff, Australian defendant, shares purchased in Australia. It has ‘Australia’ written all over it.” I don’t know whether I heard the rest of her question, or my opponent’s answer. But I knew right then and there, before having uttered a word to the Court, that my client had won.

As for the special counsel on Tuesday morning, he, too—like everyone else in the courtroom—knew from Judge Pan’s withering questioning and Sauer’s evasive responses to her that Trump is going to lose. The only question is how quickly it will happen. I have little doubt it will be soon.

This article originally referred to January 6, 2024, as a Friday; it was a Saturday. It also said the Supreme Court decided Nixon v. Fitzgerald in 1981; the case was decided in 1982.

New York Post

New York Post

Phony Fauci fesses up on fake science and COVID flim-flam

Posted: January 13, 2024 | Last updated: January 13, 2024

Former COVID czar Dr. Anthony Fauci gave closed-door testimony before Congress last week, so it’s time yet again for the Fauci Follies!

The pint-size patron saint of the failed restrictionist policies that lefties and COVID crazies love simply can’t admit he’s lost a massive argument with reality. 

The Not-So-Good Doctor got off to a weak start in DC, surprising House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chair Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) with “how much he doesn’t recall” from the start of the pandemic. 

How convenient!  

Fauci, after all, led the effort in the early days of the pandemic to quash the idea (now regarded as probable by the feds) that COVID sprang from the Wuhan Institute of Virology — throwing his considerable weight behind efforts to smear and suppress anyone who dared to dissent. 

That’s after he admitted in private he took it seriously . 

And before COVID even hit, he was passing funds to the WIV via the EcoHealth Alliance as the NIH helped pay for gain-of-function research there . 

All great stuff to forget. 

Then there’s the anti-COVID policies he championed: social distancing and vaccine mandates for schools and businesses. 

On some of it, Fauci seems finally to have come clean. Per Wenstrup, he “claimed that the policies and mandates he promoted may unfortunately increase vaccine hesitancy for years to come .”

No shock there: He and his cronies encouraged draconian rules around vaccines that don’t meaningfully stop transmission or infection, even as the medical establishment did everything it could to make talking about their (real but thankfully rare) side effects taboo . 

On social distancing, it seems he’s admitted the whole thing was completely fake from the start. 

The idea was everyone staying six feet away from each other would slow the virus spread. 

From that flowed the “need” to close businesses, shut schools, and generally immiserate average Americans. 

Yet, per Fauci (in Wenstrup’s words), the 6′ guidelines “sort of just appeared” without meaningful scientific input and “likely not based on scientific data.”

No kidding: The idea initially came from a high-schoolers 2006 science project (it placed third, by the way).

So, because of something Fauci now admits was totally made up, unimaginable harm was done — and yet he’s utterly unrepentant. 

Perhaps the most terrible effect of this unscientific diktat was the massive academic and psychological damage it did to kids kept out of school for weeks and months on end. 

Reading and math scores plummeted.

As of 2022, 8th graders had lost two decades — two decades! — of progress, the deepest drop ever. 

For Fauci? No big deal! 

According to Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas), he’s “ still not convinced that there was learning loss ” at all, that it’s “still really open for discussion.”

No, Tony, it’s not: The policies you backed did damage to a generation of kids — damage concentrated among poorer, black, and Latino students. 

No wonder you lie; how else could you live with yourself ?

It’s beyond clear by now that Fauci didn’t just get everything wrong about COVID it was possible to get wrong while treating anyone who disagreed like a Satan-worshipper.

He’s a cold-blooded sociopath, pure and simple. 

The closed-door testimony is only the start; he’s slated to speak at a public hearing as well.

There’s no way to make Fauci pay for all the vast damage he’s done, which as our Douglas Murray notes extends to shattering the public’s “faith in institutions. And faith in science.”

But if he can’t be prosecuted, he at least should be shamed as a villain greater than the hero he once played. 

Phony Fauci fesses up on fake science and COVID flim-flam

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Trump’s Legal Arguments Are Getting Increasingly Embarrassing

His arguments for why he should get presidential immunity for jan. 6 are beyond belief, and outside the scope of history..

On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump’s attorneys tried to convince a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that their client is entitled to “absolute immunity” from criminal prosecution for the actions he took while in office related to Jan. 6 and his efforts to steal the 2020 election. Their argument? That Trump was president, so it doesn’t matter. The three judges did not seem impressed. They are poised to rule against Trump, which could free special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of Trump from a temporary hold. The effort is the most important legal challenge to Smith’s case.

If the D.C. Circuit rules speedily enough and directs the case back to Judge Tanya Chutkan’s courtroom, then the Jan. 6 criminal trial against Trump can resume relatively close to its initial schedule of a spring trial date. That is, unless the Supreme Court steps in, which will add additional delay. Even in that instance, though, the high court can—as it has already done on the question of Trump’s qualification for the 2024 presidential ballot— move on an expedited basis to allow the trial to go forward well in advance of November’s election. With candidate Trump having already telegraphed his intention to use a return to office to claim the powers of a “ dictator ,” it’s no exaggeration to say that these cases could determine whether constitutional democracy as the United States has known it lives or dies.

During Tuesday’s arguments, the D.C. Circuit panel consistently pointed to the horrific implications of Trump’s immunity argument. If Trump’s argument holds, that also means that a president could take bribes to issue pardons, sell military secrets to America’s enemies, or order a military assassination of a political rival and never face prosecution—just so long as he left office before being impeached and convicted.

As Judge Karen L. Henderson, a Republican appointee who has sided with Trump allies in previous cases involving the former president, put it: “I think it’s paradoxical to say that [a president’s] constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed allows him to violate criminal laws.”

Principally at issue in the case is whether or not the president has absolute immunity from prosecution for allegedly criminal actions if he insists those actions were taken as part of his official duties. His team allows that under this wild interpretation of presidential immunity, the only opportunity for consequences is if the president is impeached and convicted for the conduct in question. (The constitution clearly allows prosecutions in such cases, but Trump was impeached and acquitted of the conduct at issue here.) His attorneys argue that with impeachment having failed, further prosecution is barred.

If Trump’s argument is accepted, it means that any future president could commit any crime he wanted using the powers of the presidency and never face consequences so long as he’s never impeached and convicted. This means that a criminal president could simply resign to receive an instant get-out-of-jail-free card. Or, if a president’s criminal conduct happened as he was leaving office and there was no time to impeach and convict, he would also get off scot-free. Further, if criminal conduct were only uncovered after a president’s term had ended and he had left office, there would be no way to hold him accountable. In other words, a president could secretly order the murder of a journalist or any private citizen , serve out the rest of his term, leave office as his term expires, have the murder uncovered and proven only after he has left office, and still never face any consequences. Trump’s attorney, John Sauer, did not even dispute that this was what he was arguing for.

Judge Florence Pan, a Biden appointee, figured this out early on. “Could a president order SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival? That’s an official act, an order to SEAL Team Six?” she asked Sauer. “He would have to speedily be impeached and convicted,” Sauer responded, evading the underlying question. “But if he weren’t, there would be no criminal prosecution, no criminal liability for that?” Pan countered. Sauer again evaded the question.

The day’s arguments are best summarized by this brain-breaking exchange between Judge Pan and Sauer:

Pan: I asked you a yes or no question. Could a president who asked SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival who was not impeached and convicted, could he be subject to prosecution? Sauer: If he were impeached and convicted first. Pan: So your answer no. Sauer: My answer is a qualified yes. … Pan: I have asked you a series of hypotheticals about criminal actions that could be taken by a president and could be considered official acts and have asked you, would such a president be subject to prosecution if he’s not impeached or convicted, and your yes or no answer is “no.” Sauer: I believe my answer was a qualified yes if he’s impeached or convicted first. Pan: My question was, so he’s not impeached or convicted, let’s put that aside. You’re saying a president could sell pardons, could sell military secrets, could order SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival. … Sauer: Those are very extreme examples of potential official acts.

The rest of Sauer’s morning did not go much better than that. Everyone agreed that the president can lose his “absolute immunity” protection under specific circumstances—including, as Sauer conceded, in the case of an impeachment and conviction. That means, Judge Pan pointed out, that the immunity principle was not actually “absolute.” Sauer rejected that framing, but did not really have a good argument in response.

It was also repeatedly pointed out to Sauer that President Richard Nixon resigned from office without being impeached or convicted, but still faced prosecution for his actions related to the Watergate burglary and cover-up while in office. Sure, he ultimately accepted a full pardon from President Gerald Ford in the case, but the relevant part here is that former presidents can be prosecuted.

Sauer did try to carve out a distinction between Nixon and Trump by arguing that Nixon’s alleged crimes did not involve the office of the presidency. “President Nixon was accused of a wide range of purely private conduct, and he was facing potential indictment for that at the time the pardon was issued,” Sauer said. “Nobody has contended that the president is immune for purely private conduct.”

However, as James Pearce, who argued the case on behalf of the Department of Justice, pointed out: “Nixon was not about private conduct. Nixon was about, among other things, using the CIA to try to interfere with an FBI investigation.” As Pearce put it, “At least since the Watergate era 50 years ago, has there been widespread societal recognition, including by presidents and the executive branch, that a former president is subject to criminal prosecution.”

The last argument Judge Henderson and Pan both intensely questioned Sauer on is perhaps the most ridiculous (if you can imagine one more outlandish than what we’ve already been through). The two judges noted that Trump’s legal team made the exact opposite argument about the impeachment clause’s supposed prohibition on prosecutions of former presidents during his 2021 impeachment trial over the conduct in question. As I noted in Slate when the motion to dismiss the case on immunity grounds was first filed back in October—and as Pan noted at Tuesday’s arguments—during that impeachment trial, Trump’s legal team argued that the only appropriate venue for trying any Jan. 6 case was the criminal legal system, not a congressional impeachment proceeding. “The Constitution expressly provides in Article I, Section 3, Clause 7 that a convicted party, following impeachment, ‘shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment according to law,’ ” Trump’s attorney noted at the time. “Clearly, a former civil officer who is not impeached is subject to the same.”

Judge Pan suggested Trump had switched positions based on personal convenience. “You took the position, or your client did, during the impeachment proceedings, that there would be an option for criminal prosecution later. And it’s in the Congressional Record, and I guess the question is what has changed, or why have you changed your position?” she asked Sauer. At this, Sauer simply denied that clear statements from the Congressional Record were actually Trump’s previous legal positions, saying, “I wouldn’t agree with that characterization of the statements in the Congressional Record.”

Ultimately in this case, Trump’s attorneys are once again in the unenviable position of arguing a maximalist position with far-reaching and horrifying implications in order to defend the outrageous conduct of their client. If these are the arguments Trump plans to bring to the Supreme Court, it will be virtually impossible for the justices to justify siding with Trump and against his criminal accountability for Jan. 6. We’ll see how far these justices are willing to bend the law for Trump if and when the case reaches them, or if this display was enough to quash these absurd stances.

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10 facts about americans and alcohol as ‘dry january’ begins.

As Americans hang fresh calendars and debut New Year’s resolutions, some will swear off alcohol, whether as part of a “Dry January” challenge or a longer-term goal . Here are 10 key facts about Americans’ behaviors and attitudes when it comes to drinking alcohol and how these have changed over time, drawn from surveys and sales data.

Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to understand Americans’ experiences with alcohol and how they have changed over time. Survey data comes from Gallup and the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey . Data on Americans’ drinking habits comes from the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) , and alcohol sales data is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly retail sales survey .

A line chart showing that a majority of U.S. adults say they drink alcohol

Overall, 62% of U.S. adults say they ever drink alcohol, while 38% abstain completely, according to a July 2023 Gallup survey . Gallup has asked Americans for more than eight decades whether they have “had occasion to use alcoholic beverages such as liquor, wine or beer.” During that span, majorities have consistently said they consume alcohol. This share peaked in the late 1970s, when 71% of adults said they drank alcohol.

Adults ages 35 to 54, those with a college degree, those with household incomes of $100,000 or more, and those who attend church less than once a week are all more likely than other Americans to drink alcohol.

A bar chart showing that middle-aged U.S. adults, those with higher incomes and college graduates are more likely to drink

Most adults who consume alcohol have done so recently, according to the July Gallup survey. Among adults who drink, 69% say they last had a drink within the past week. This includes 32% whose most recent drink was in the last 24 hours, and 37% who most recently had one within the last two to seven days. Another 32% say they last consumed alcohol more than a week ago. 

About one-in-five adults who drink alcohol (19%) say they sometimes drink more than they think they should, the Gallup survey shows. Some demographic groups are more likely than others to say this:

  • Men: Men are more likely than women to say they sometimes overindulge (21% vs. 16%).
  • Younger adults: About two-in-ten adults younger than 35 (22%) and ages 35 to 54 (20%) say this, compared with 14% of those 55 and older.
  • Upper-income adults: 24% of adults with annual household incomes of at least $100,000 say they occasionally drink too much, compared with 10% of those with household incomes of less than $40,000.

Among adults who don’t drink, the most common reason given is that they just don’t want to, the Gallup survey found. About a quarter of nondrinkers (24%) say in an open-ended question that they have no desire to drink or do not want to.

Other common answers include that they do not like drinking (16%); it is unhealthy (14%); they are afraid of the consequences (13%); and they had a bad past experience with alcohol (13%).

On average, Americans have been consuming more alcohol in recent years, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) , which has data going back to 1970. In 2021, the most recent year with data, the average American age 21 or older consumed 2.83 gallons of pure alcohol – the equivalent of about 603 “standard drinks.” (A standard drink, per the NIAAA , contains 0.6 ounces of alcohol.)

A line chart showing that for the average American, alcohol intake has gone up in recent years

Per-capita alcohol consumption peaked in the early 1980s at 3.28 gallons, or almost 700 drinks. It bottomed out in the late 1990s at 2.45 gallons per person, or about 523 drinks.

A chart showing that Americans are drinking less beer - and more wine - than they used to

Americans drink less beer and more wine than they used to, according to the NIAAA. Since 1970, the peak year for beer consumption was 1981, when the typical American age 21 or older drank 36.7 gallons. By 2021, beer consumption had fallen to 26.5 gallons per person. Over those four decades, the amount of wine the average American drank annually rose from 3.2 gallons to 3.8 gallons. Meanwhile, consumption of distilled spirits dropped slightly, from 3.0 to 2.8 gallons. Looked at another way, 17.4% of all alcohol consumed by Americans in 2021 came from wine, up from 12.0% in 1971. The share coming from beer fell from 44.6% to 42.3% during the same period, while the share coming from spirits fell from 43.5% to 40.3%.

Per-capita alcohol consumption appears to be highest in the West and lowest in the South, based on the NIAAA data. On the state level, it appears to be highest in New Hampshire and Delaware, and lowest in Utah. However, state-level consumption estimates can be affected by such factors as sales to people from neighboring states (especially when there are significant differences in alcohol tax rates) and alcohol consumption by tourists (think Nevada, Florida, and Washington, D.C.).

A U.S. map showing the per-capita pure alcohol consumption by state among adults ages 21 and older

Young adults today are less likely to drink than young adults two decades ago – but older adults are more likely to do so, according to Gallup . The share of adults ages 18 to 34 who say they  ever drink dropped from 72% in 2001-03 to 62% in 2021-23. (Gallup looked at the data in three-year time periods to allow for reliable age-group analysis.)

A line chart showing that fewer young adults in the U.S. drink today than two decades ago

Young adults who drink, meanwhile, are less likely than those two decades ago to have had a drink recently : 61% say they had a drink in the week before the survey, compared with 67% in the early 2000s. And the share who say they sometimes drink more than they think they should has declined from 28% in the early 2000s to 22% now.

Americans 55 and older, on the other hand, are more likely than their counterparts two decades ago to say they do all of these things. Among those ages 35 to 54, the shares who do these things have remained relatively stable over time.

Underage drinking among U.S. teens has declined over the last 20 years, according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey . In 2023, 46% of 12th graders said they had consumed alcohol in the 12 months prior to the survey, as did 31% of 10th graders and 15% of eighth graders. These shares are down from 2001, when 73% of 12th graders, 64% of 10th graders and 42% of eighth graders said they had drunk alcohol in the previous year.

Across all three grade levels, the shares who said they had drunk alcohol in the 30 days prior to the survey and who reported binge drinking – having five or more drinks in a row during the last two weeks – also declined between 2001 and 2023.

Annual sales at beer, wine and liquor stores have been on the rise, typically peaking each year in December. Even after adjusting for inflation, sales at beer, wine and liquor stores rose gradually throughout the 2000s and 2010s, until spiking in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic . Since midsummer 2020, sales volume has gradually fallen, though it remains above pre-pandemic levels. (Not all alcoholic beverages are bought at beer, wine and liquor stores, but these figures provide insight into broader trends.)

A line chart showing that year after year, December is the peak month for U.S. retail alcohol sales

In a typical year, sales are highest in December. In 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly retail sales survey , December sales at such retailers were 37% above the average for the other 11 months of the year. Conversely, January and February are typically the slowest months for those sellers.

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Exploring Argument Writing With Visual Tools

Teachers can have students use graphic organizers and timelines to clarify their thinking during the writing process.

Illustration of person writing with thought bubble made of pieces of wadded paper

As a teacher who loves to write and engage students with writing, I’ve experienced many challenges in attempting to bring composition into the classroom. While some students readily fill up blank pages with words inspired by their lives and stories they love, others are seemingly always in search of the best words.

More challenging still are those moments when I’ve led students through the steps necessary for expository and research-based argument writing. I’ve found that my students who are comfortable with the narrative mode are now thrust into compositing in a way that is unfamiliar ground.

This article explores some ways I’ve applied graphic organizers and visual planning strategies to the work of argument writing—which is perhaps the mode I consider the most challenging in the classroom.

Sifting Content

First among the challenges for argument is the way that debate and disagreement are often portrayed in popular culture—shouting matches and interruption rounds where it seems that the loudest voice wins out. In my classroom, the approach that I attempt to foster for argument is one of thoughtful intention and wisely applied rhetorical strategies.

As with much of the secondary curriculum I have worked with from middle-grades English to advanced composition, sorting information into categories (ethos/ethics, logos/logic, and emotion/pathos) is a helpful step once a topic is shared and resources are gathered.

But sorting through multiple paragraphs and pages in search of the “just right” evidence can be challenging and is a critical reading practice all on its own. To support these steps in criticality, I suggest that students create a simple three-column chart in which they can begin to sort the emotional, logical, and ethics-driven elements of their argument. Using a visual scaffold to support exploration of a complex reading is an essential step for me—and I used a similar strategy just this past week in my junior-level English class to sort out ideas and compare the writings of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.

By sorting ideas in this way, students can physically see how balanced their argument actually is, and they can begin thinking about what they need to ramp up for the eventual presentation of the case. 

Gathering Further Ideas

Another challenge in composing arguments is not only sorting and interpreting information, but also applying it in a way that includes informative and persuasive techniques.

As students consider the ways to apply these skills, they can begin to think through additional sources that they can use to build their foundation for thinking about the issues they’re presenting and noting the sources that help them build the strongest case. This type of exploring and writing is especially important when practicing synthesizing ideas across multiple sources.

On the surface, this process sounds like reading and rereading multiple sources (and it is). However, I apply a visual scaffold to this process to help students think about how their resources are linked and support or contradict each other. I illustrate the claim, counterclaim, and rebuttal aspects of argument structure through a visual outline, but the work of fleshing out these sections of the discussion takes place best in a mind map structure.

A simple three-circle Venn diagram can help students begin placing ideas into the claim section, and they can explore how authors overlap ideas with one another through this graphic organizer format. Ideally, they reach a point where the strongest ideas are in the center “target” point of the argument structure. They can think about best placement of these strongest ideas as leading points or final rebuttals—depending on what they want to leave their audience with. This approach is also helpful for relieving some of the stress that can surround framing what might be a challenging and less comfortable form of writing.

The additional details they gather can then be sorted further into areas of the argument structure that make sense.

Establishing Timelines

Further adapting the outline style, I encourage students to think about the argument as a timeline wherein their audience is most likely to connect with information early and remember information late. Outlining is almost always a building block of what I ask students to engage with when composing. For debates and discussions in our class, writing a timeline is an effective process.

From this timeline (prompting discussion and exploration of evidence and argument), students can practice writing their own arguments and responses by modifying it and including aspects of evidence and ideas they want to share (in whatever particular order they'd like to present their research).

Crafting Closing Arguments

By approaching an argument step-by-step, as discussion and collaboration that improves through a process, I have the goal of making what might seem complicated and overwhelming much more attainable and inviting—even, dare I say, active and interesting.

I recognize that many of my students might not have had vast experiences with all of the modes of writing and composing, and I take into account that some will be more naturally inclined to some ways of writing and sharing than others. Some students eagerly take the lead in an oral debate process, while others more readily engage in the research roles and independent writing components of the work.

As with much of my work in literacy, I attempt to make an invisible process clear and visual—in this case, through graphic organizers. I am aware that teachers might find other graphic organizer options that work more effectively at particular aspects of the argument process. For example, the Venn diagram might not communicate in the ways that a teacher may want, and so a flow chart/mind map or T-chart might work as a better substitute.

I encourage teachers to modify any steps in order to better support their students and focus on the importance of critical thinking and composing for all students.

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Guest Essay

Don’t Turn Away From the Charges of Genocide Against Israel

A man in a beige sweatshirt and a woman in an orange head scarf cry next to a metal gate.

By Megan K. Stack

Ms. Stack, a contributing Opinion writer, covered the Middle East as a correspondent for The Los Angeles Times.

With the question of whether Israel is committing genocide in Gaza now before the International Court of Justice, the Biden administration has struck a tone of glib dismissal.

“Meritless” seems to be the agreed-upon term among U.S. officials. “The charge of genocide is meritless,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken intoned from a podium in Tel Aviv this week. “Meritless, counterproductive, and without any basis in fact whatsoever,” blustered the National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

The administration’s posture of indifference strains credulity. The 84-page case submitted to the court by South Africa is crammed with devastating evidence that Israel has breached its obligations under the 1948 international genocide convention, which defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” The document before the court is meticulously footnoted and sourced, and many experts say the legal argument is unusually strong.

Top Israeli political and military leaders have themselves helped to bolster the case against their government. The words of Israeli officials are being offered as evidence of intent: from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging Israelis to “remember” the Old Testament account of the carnage of Amalek (“Spare no one, but kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings,” reads one passage); to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowing that “Gaza won’t return to what it was before — we will eliminate everything”; to the minister of energy and infrastructure pledging , “They will not receive a drop of water or a single battery until they leave this world.” By speaking openly about destroying Gaza and dispersing its residents, Israeli leaders have publicized what has, in other cases of genocide, been hidden or denied.

There’s no telling, of course, how effectively each side will argue, or how the judges will rule. This week’s hearings in The Hague will not answer whether Israel is committing genocide — that will come after a more painstaking collection and presentation of evidence, and could take years. For now, South Africa has asked the court “as a matter of extreme urgency” to order Israel to halt its onslaught in order to protect Palestinians and preserve evidence. The panel of judges has to be convinced only that the accusation of genocide is plausible to order provisional measures in the coming days or weeks.

Even a determination that evidence suggests genocide would oblige the international community to protect the shellshocked, starving people of Gaza by demanding a cease-fire and flooding the Palestinians with aid. In the long run, the case could lay early groundwork for sanctions against Israel or the prosecution of its officials.

The proceedings are meaningful for the United States, too. The Biden administration has been the indispensable sponsor of this war — arming, funding and diplomatically shielding Israel despite increasingly dire reports of Palestinian death and displacement. If the violence in Gaza is found to be genocide, the United States could be charged with complicity in genocide, a crime in its own right. Given the sheer power of the United States and its track record of international impunity, the odds of any significant consequences may be small — but, nevertheless, Americans should understand that the case is both substantial and serious, and that their own government is implicated.

Israel and its U.S. backers will, of course, frame this differently. They will point out, correctly, that Israel suffered an intolerable blow on Oct. 7, when Hamas militants cut a path of atrocities through southern Israel, slaughtering hundreds of civilians and dragging hundreds more back into Gaza as hostages.

Israeli and American officials have repeatedly invoked self-defense to explain the violence in Gaza; self-defense is also expected to shape Israel’s arguments in The Hague.

But self-defense cannot excuse or justify acts of genocide, and Israel’s assault on Gaza is a wildly disproportionate response to the crimes of Oct. 7. Israel did not promise, nor did it execute, a sharply targeted retaliation against Hamas (whose leaders run their political operations out of Qatar) or a strategic hunt for the hostages.

Israel has rescued only a single hostage — and Israeli soldiers shot dead three Israeli hostages who were waving a white flag and begging for rescue, later explaining they mistook them for Palestinians. Almost all of the 110 Israeli hostages who’ve made it home were released by truce, negotiation and prisoner exchange.

Within hours of the Hamas attack, Israel imposed a brutal blockade on the Gaza Strip, cutting off electricity, water, fuel and food to a trapped population of roughly 2.2 million, about half of whom are children. The blockade itself amounted to the war crime of collective punishment, but that was only the curtain raiser. Within hours, the bombs began to fall — and have continued to this day.

In an Israeli television clip cited by South Africa in its application, Col. Yogev Bar-Sheshet spoke from Gaza: “Whoever returns here, if they return here after, will find scorched earth,” he said. “No houses, no agriculture, no nothing. They have no future.”

Israel has killed over 23,000 people in Gaza, according to the Gazan health ministry. More than 9,000 of the dead are children. More than 1,000 children had undergone agonizing amputations, sometimes with no anesthesia available, by late November, UNICEF says . Women giving birth have also been forced to undergo cesarean sections without anesthesia, according to doctors in Gaza. Entire neighborhoods are crushed, and more than 85 percent of the population has been displaced.

To understand this extraordinary spasm of violence as an act of national self-defense, you’d have to accept that Israel’s only chance for safety depends upon Gaza being crushed and emptied — by death or displacement — of virtually all Palestinians.

And, indeed, Israeli officials have said as much.

Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, recently explained to the British TV host Iain Dale that Israel had to lay waste to Gaza because “every school, every mosque, every second house” was connected to a tunnel used by Hamas.

“That’s an argument for destroying the whole of Gaza, every single building in it,” Mr. Dale said.

“Do you have another solution?” Ms. Hotovely replied.

As the arguments at The Hague drew near, Israeli officials tried to soften their image.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military tweeted out a video insisting (in English) that “our war is against Hamas, not the people of Gaza.” Israel’s Channel 12 reported that Mr. Netanyahu warned his ministers to be cautious what they say about the war. “Choose your words carefully,” Mr. Netanyahu reportedly said , despite his own violent rhetoric.

The Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy has repeatedly called the South African case a “ blood libel ” — a reference to antisemitic European conspiracy theories that have fueled the persecution of Jews since the Middle Ages. “History will judge you, and it will judge you without mercy,” Mr. Levy said, addressing the South African government.

The conviction that South Africa is carrying on an ancient and despicable tradition of antisemitism touches on the extreme sensitivities surrounding this case.

Contemporary notions of war crimes and genocide emerged from the horrors of the Holocaust. To hear the charge of genocide turned against the Jewish state often provokes a visceral disbelief among people — including many Americans — who were carefully educated about the Holocaust while the desperate plight of Palestinians was downplayed or ignored.

Raz Segal, an Israeli historian and genocide expert who has argued that Israel’s actions in Gaza are “a textbook case of genocide,” recently described to me this cognitive dissonance.

“The idea that the Jewish state could commit war crimes, let alone genocide, becomes from the beginning an unthinkable idea,” said Dr. Segal, a professor at Stockton University in New Jersey. “Impunity for Israel is baked into the system.”

Speaking before the tribunal on Thursday, the South African barrister Max du Plessis argued that Israel’s decades-long oppression of Palestinian rights must be regarded as crucial context of the violence in Gaza, which he said “is not correctly framed as a simple dispute between two parties.”

Israel, he pointed out, is an occupying power “that has subjected the Palestinian people to an oppressive and prolonged violation to their rights to self-determination for more than half a century. And those violations occur in a world where Israel for years has regarded itself as beyond and above the law.”

The word “genocide” rings loudly in our imagination. We think of Rwanda, Bosnia, the Armenians, the Trail of Tears and, of course, the Holocaust. I have heard many people balk at the suggestion that Gaza could be experiencing genocide. The Holocaust, after all, wiped out over 60 percent of European Jews. Israel’s war — instigated, no less, by the murder of Jews — has killed about 1 percent of the Palestinians in Gaza. One percent is terrible, of course, but genocide ?

Under the genocide convention, though, the term describes an intent to wipe out a defined group of people and taking steps to achieve that end. There is no threshold of death, or proportion of death, that must be reached. It is possible to kill a relatively small number of people, but still commit an act of genocide.

We should approach this question humbly, because we — Americans, the West — have repeatedly shown that we are good at recognizing genocide only in retrospect. Virtually every cataclysm we now know as genocide, including the Holocaust, was met, first, with doubt and linguistic quibbling until finally — and much too late — a declaration was made.

Rwanda, often mentioned just after the Holocaust in the dirty annals of genocide, was acknowledged as such only after Europeans and Americans wasted precious weeks prevaricating and dragging their feet, leery of intervention, while U.S. officials refused to say the word “genocide” in public. Denial of the Bosnian genocide has continued to this day.

When I read the document assembled by South Africa, my mind reeled: How could it happen? How was it allowed to happen?

The harrowing details from Gaza go on and on. The crushing of the medical system. The slaughter of aid workers. The killing of journalists. The war on libraries, houses of worship and culture. The destruction of families and economic needs and possibility itself.

Nowhere is safe in Gaza . This line is repeated in the South African suit. Most of the people are starving. Around 70 percent of the dead are women and children and two mothers are killed every hour, the United Nations has estimated.

On Thursday, the South African advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi referred to Israel’s denial of fuel and water to Gaza.

“This admits of no ambiguity: It means to create conditions of death of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” Mr. Ngcukaitobi said. “To die a slow death because of starvation and dehydration or to die quickly because of a bomb attack or snipers. But to die, nevertheless.”

The destruction of bakeries, water pipes, sewerage and electricity networks. The hoisting of Israeli flags over the wreckage. Calls from Israel’s government to return settlers to Gaza.

I don’t have to wonder how it could have been allowed to happen. It is happening now, and we’ve all been watching.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

Follow the New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Instagram , TikTok , X and Threads .

Megan K. Stack is a contributing Opinion writer and author. She has been a correspondent in China, Russia, Egypt, Israel, Afghanistan and the U.S.-Mexico border area. Her first book, a narrative account of the post-Sept. 11 wars, was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction. @ Megankstack


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