To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate
Abstract: Through no fault of their own, save believing in their trusted sources, anti-vaxxers have been fed misinformation that has resulted in a pandemic almost exclusive to the unvaccinated. That pandemic is not just dangerous to the anti-vaxxers but also to others who will become ill and die from Covid-19 variants more virulent than the original virus. Vaccinations are the only weapon against new and more perilous variants. Anti-vaxxers (and all of us) need better data in order to make well-informed decisions. It is easy to be misled, for even the best logic based upon false premises will result in false conclusions. Anti-vaxxers need to know that if they’ve been led to false conclusions by false data, their logic is not faulty, and they are not to blame. With better information, they are better positioned to re-apply their perfectly sound logic and come to conclusions that will serve them and their loved ones better.
For most adult people in the United States of America, where anyone above the age of 11 can get a vaccine against Covid-19 if they want one, it seems to make sense to be vaccinated, and for those folks, mostly protected (for now) against the scourge, it might seem like not getting vaccinated is foolhardy. But can it be true that more than half the country are fools? What if there were perfectly good reasons to avoid the jab?
Well, there are good reasons, and they depend upon your perspective and your life situation.
People who resist vaccinations or who adamantly oppose them have legitimate concerns. Categories of concerns include:
a. Life Dependencies
c. Hoax Belief
a. Life Dependencies
If you are dependent upon a care-giving adult who is opposed to your getting vaccinated, it’s unlikely that you will be able to do so. If you are under 12, you cannot be vaccinated. Only recently, the FDA gave approval for vaccinations of children aged 12 through 15. You may have an authority figure in your life who scorns vaccinations, and that relationship might put you under pressure to agree even if the dependency is only emotional and not financial.
The Republican Party is the party of anti-vaxxers. Democrats and Independents who oppose vaccination are few, if any. Covid-19 spread-prevention activities, including lockdowns, social distancing and mask wearing, have been resisted by red states, red municipalities and the Trump administration since the pandemic began, and super spreader campaign events were exclusively Trumpian, so if you see him as your leader, spiritual, political or otherwise, you might quite reasonably want to follow the leader.
Many followers of Trump believe that the very existence of vaccines could not have occurred without Donald Trump, despite the fact that the most effective and first vaccine (Pfizer) was developed and manufactured with no help from the federal government. However, the Republican “platform” with respect to the pandemic is that spread-prevention takes second place to keeping the economy as open as possible, leaving Democrats as the champions of spread-prevention.
Until this writing, Conservative politicians and talking heads on TV have played down the pandemic, and vaccinations have mistakenly fallen into the no-no category of things to do, even though vaccinations have no negative effect on the economy (as do lockdowns, for example).
Still, some loyal Republicans may consider it politically disloyal to be vaccinated.
c. Hoax Belief
Though vaccinated himself after contracting Covid-19, Trump has repeatedly played down the pandemic, even calling it a Democratic hoax. The primary reason given was that Democrats wanted the economy to fail during his term. None of that is true, and the pandemic is NOT a hoax, to which over 625,000 U.S. corpses can attest — unwillingly and in absentia. Conspiracy theories exist that blame doctors for attributing other causes of death to Covid-19, but there is no evidence to support such theories and no rational motivation has been asserted for doctors nationwide to do such a thing.
However, when the head of government declares the pandemic a hoax and follows that up with rallies that give no credence to the efficacy of masking or social distancing, it’s not altogether unreasonable for loyalists to follow the leader. Further, now that beliefs concerning the pandemic have become politicized, conservative-leaning TV talking heads and some Republican politicians are prone to pushing the envelope towards what they think their followers want to hear.
This misinformation is not the fault of folks hearing it. They did not create the misinformation, and it is so prevalent in the talk shows they’ve grown to trust, that it’s hard to dispute or ignore. So if the pandemic is thought of as a hoax, why be vaccinated? Believers are not being unreasonable — only misled.
That’s a big one — and overlapping other categories. Following are 20 prevalent misconceptions that can be the basis for a multitude of fears:
1. You might get injected with a tracking chip, and Big Brother will be watching you.
(Maybe a micro-dot could fit through a needle, but not a tracking chip — or any kind of chip. Big Bro may be watching you, but not via vaccinations. The stuff you see on TV is science fiction — not science.)
2. It’s dangerous; not proved safe. It could cause medical anomalies, like heart inflammation (myocarditis), infertility, depression, erectile dysfunction, sleep apnea or brain malfunctions. Some people have become seriously ill and a few have died after being vaccinated.
(The latter is true; the other “anomalies” are not. The approved Covid-19 vaccines are among the safest on the planet, with millions of “test subjects” and very few negative effects.)
3. You think spreading the virus is a good thing.
(Not a joke. For a while, the Trump administration gave credence to a theory that spreading the virus would achieve herd immunity. Not true. It’s vaccines that foster herd immunity, not the lack of them.)
4. You’re afraid Covid-19 will be around for years, and that forebodes the need for more vaccinations — better ones. Why bother with this one?
(It’s true that more spread means new variants, which will ensure a long, virulent life for the disease, and some of the variants could be more virulent, causing many more deaths. Already, the delta variant is at least 50% more transmissible than the alpha strain, which was more transmissible than the original virus. By not being vaccinated, you contribute to further spread and potentially new and more terrible variants. Being vaccinated helps prevent more variants and reduces the need for more inclusive vaccinations. Don’t wait; the need is now.)
5. You want your kids and grandchildren to suffer in the short term to teach them of life’s vulnerabilities and in the long term with disabilities so that they’re not pampered throughout their lives.
(It’s hard to imagine anyone thinking this way, but I guess it’s possible.)
6. You don’t think your unvaccinated children need protection.
(It’s normal for kids to feel invulnerable, but we all know that they are not. What’s not normal is for adults to think kids are invulnerable.)
7. You think it’s disloyal to the Republican Party to be vaccinated.
(Not! Many Republican leaders and followers have been vaccinated and advise others to do the same. Vaccination is a health issue, not a political issue. Recently, even Sean Hannity has modified his stance on the matter and urged followers to be vaccinated.)
8. Vaccination can cause infection at the injection site, usually on your arm.
(That would be incredibly unusual, though not impossible. People authorized to give injections tend to be well trained and cautious in using safe protocols. Make sure you’re using a reputable agent.)
9. The injection is going to hurt.
(It doesn’t, but after effects can be annoying, disturbing and — rarely — consequential. The chance of serious negative effects from vaccination are less than being struck by lightning and far less than dying in a vehicle crash.)
10. You don’t want to admit you’ve been misled up until now; you don’t want to admit that proponents of vaccination were right all along, especially people you know and dislike because they think (or maybe you think) they’re smarter than you are.
(Buck up. We all make mistakes.)
11. You don’t want government to control you.
(Neither do I. Vaccination is not about government control.)
12. By not being vaccinated, you declare your freedom, even if it kills you.
(Vaccination GIVES you freedom.)
13. You think vaccination is some form of mind control.
14. You’re brave; vaccinations are for sissies.
(Not getting vaccinated is not courageous; it’s not smart either. 99.5% of all current deaths attributed to Covid-19 are unvaccinated people.)
15. The sooner I get vaccinated, the sooner I’ll need a booster. Why not just wait?
(Really? You could get the disease tomorrow.)
16. If most of the people around me are vaccinated, I don’t have to be.
(That’s true — and selfish, unless you’re trying to get pregnant and think the vaccine could have a negative effect on the fetus. However, recent studies show that it does not. The worst effect it could have on your fetus is if you die from Covid-19.)
17. My common sense is better than the so-called wisdom of doctors and epidemiologists. I’m not likely to get the disease.
(Right you are, i.e., the odds are with you. Given current treatments, fatalities once you get the disease are about 2% — about 20 times more than seasonal flu. That means, with about 625,000 people now dead from Covid-19 in the U.S., about 31 million have had the disease so far. That’s less than 10% of the population. You could indeed take your chances. Of course, you’re not helping to stem the tide generally, which is pretty selfish of you. Someone you love could die of this disease because of too many people thinking this way. Also, as variants become more transmissible, your odds get worse over time. I suggest you assume accountability now.)
18. If I die from Covid-19, my children will be able to sue Sean Hannity and others who have provided misinformation leading to my death.
(Don’t count on it.)
19. Why risk a vaccination if there’s only a small chance of my getting the disease?
(There’s almost no risk of harm from vaccination. However, the risk of death if you get the disease is very high. Imagine being willing to undergo non-essential surgery where there’s a 2% risk of dying. Would you do that? Also, see #17.)
20. Tucker Carlson “has questions” about the vaccine? Shouldn’t we wait until all those questions are answered?
(You wait. Consider this though… Carlson’s questions are mostly absurd. He is neither a doctor nor an epidemiologist, and he’s highly motivated to tell you something dramatic he thinks you want to hear — not the truth.)
Bottom line: If you’re not yet vaccinated, please consider the facts, the most important of which is that it’s not your fault if you’ve been misinformed and misled. Now that you know though, please do the right thing. Consider the facts and make the best choice for yourself and the people you love.