The industrial landscape of Southeast Texas where West Hansen grew up has past Bible churches, donut shops and the silver industrial towers of the refinery. The social worker has been trying to explain to his clients how safe the vaccines are.
He says that he has grown weary of it.
Donna and Danny Downes are waiting for him in the living room of their house. She is a work-at- home administrator for a fence contractor and he is a legally blind retired insurance salesman. They are Baptists.
She says that they don't like vaccines because they feel like they have more immunity.
Danny thinks it is a big government thing where they are trying to control the public.
More than half of Americans are protected from vaccine-related diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the mortality rate for the COVID-19 virus is being driven by people who are not vaccine-free. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about one in six Americans will not get the vaccine.
Liz Hamel, vice president and director of public policy and survey research at KFF, says that the size of the group that says they are not getting vaccine has been consistent in all of their surveys.
Republicans and people living in rural areas are more likely to say they are not going to get the vaccine.
According to the data from Kaiser, 20% of those who say they will never get the vaccine are Democrats or politically independent.
The 60-year-old social worker, who has worked for nearly half his life, says his clients are often older people who need assistance with their daily living. His job is to inform them of the benefits of the government.
He says that the recalcitrance towards getting the vaccine flies in the face of the fact that family members died of COVID.
In another call, Hansen parked in front of a ramshackle house at the end of a wooded, unpaved road. There are cats and trash in the rooms. A husband and wife are sitting in recliners in front of a TV waiting for him.
The woman, who was a retired graphic designer, asked that her last name not be used because she was disabled by a stroke last year.
She says that the Measles vaccine worked well. I am not sure how long it took to get those vaccinations. I felt the vaccine came out too quickly.
She had a stroke last October. She was in the hospital earlier this year.
She says that people are still getting cholesterol even after they get the vaccine. I don't believe in vaccinations. It scares me a lot.
Betty and Mike Spencer are a retired teacher and a truck driver who live in the country near the San Marcos River in Central Texas. The Spencers acknowledge that they believe in conspiracy theories. Mike says he watches Alex Jones and that he doesn't like the accepted narratives of the Kennedy assassination and the 9/11 attacks.
He says with a smile that there are people who say the only difference between a conspiracy theory and truth is six to eight months.
Mike thinks that the vaccine was designed as a de-population tool.
I think there is a lot of bad stuff in it that has to do with transhumanism and the internet-of-things.
The CDC recommends that COVID-19 vaccines be used because they are safe and effective in preventing serious or fatal cases of the virus.
Some of Hansen's clients don't distrust the needle. A 78-year-old retired hairdresser is vaccine-free. When the social worker arrives, she is laying on her bed watching tv with her family.
I saw a lot of people dying. She says that it seems stupid to not want to get the vaccine.
According to recent data from KFF's COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, partisanship and political ideology play a much larger role than scientific evidence in vaccination decisions. A majority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats said they had received a vaccine. The unvaccinated people who are quoted in the story say they voted Republican. In the time of the Pandemic, vaccine misinformation has become widespread. According to a report by the KFF, more and more people distrust the mainstream media and pick their own sources of truth.
They are mainstream, says the retired graphic designer. I am not an idiot.
Donna Downes says that she doesn't watch a news broadcast and that she does a lot of research.
When the vaccines became available a year ago, Hansen thought they were a blessing because so many of his clients were older with pre-existing medical conditions. He watched his clients reject the vaccines as they became more politicized.
It's shocking, you're offering a person a hand and they slap it away and they doubt you can pull them to shore. It is very puzzling.
Kenneth Coleman is the director of the public health department. He says that in Jefferson County, where the largest city is, a little over half of the residents are fully vaccined. His office is trying to get people to get the vaccine.
Coleman says that Beaumont is not a big town. The ones who want it have gotten it. For the ones who haven't gotten it, they don't want it.
Coleman has been with the department for 30 years and has never seen people so opposed to common sense health practices. He is worried about the loss of trust in public health services, not just about another deadly COVID variant.
If there is an outbreak of diseases, what will happen?
I don't trust anything that CDC says, I say, when it comes to public health.