Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, highly popular Fox News commentators, have recently been telling their audiences that COVID vaccines could be dangerous and the government is trying to force people to get vaccinated.

The New York Times, which reported on the Fox News personalities’ activities on Monday this week, quoted Mr. Carlson as saying the Biden administration’s vaccination initiative is “the greatest scandal in my lifetime, by far.” And Ms. Ingraham called it “creepy stuff” that health officials were going to go door-to-door in an attempt to get more people vaccinated.

Why are they taking this position? Mr. Carlson, according to the Times, previously supported vaccinations. On a show in April he said that “vaccines are great.” And Ms. Ingraham was in favor of adults getting vaccinated. They have apparently changed their minds.

The more likely explanation is that they are playing to the fears of the uninformed to fuel the culture wars that fuel their popularity.

Regardless of the reason, their message is reprehensible. COVID is still inflicting terrible damage in parts of the country where vaccination rates are low. It is tragic because it is preventable. Vaccines, particularly those produced by Moderna and Pfizer, have turned out to be far more effective than predicted. Here in Massachusetts, where vaccination rates are high, we are enjoying friends, going to restaurants and events and mixing with people without fear of infection.

Many have had uncomfortable reactions to the shots, with flulike symptoms for a day or two after the second dose as the immune system gears up to confront spike proteins. But that is just what we want: an immune system that is ready to fight off actual COVID fragments from taking hold in our bodies.

There have been serious reactions to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but they are extremely rare.

It is possible to become infected with COVID after getting vaccinated, but that too is rare, with some 4,000 cases in Massachusetts out of some 4 million who have been vaccinated. And those who do contract COVID have mild, or at worst manageable, cases.

We are privileged in this country to have the vaccine available for so many. Others elsewhere in the world are not so fortunate. And meanwhile, two television personalities are trying to undermine our good fortune and our efforts to get ahead of the scourge of COVID.

They have the right to say what they want; the First Amendment protects their free speech. But their self-serving arguments should be strongly and widely denounced.

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