I’m Struggling to Understand
I’m struggling to understand what’s going on in this country. We’ve been dealing with a pandemic for about 18 months and we just can’t seem to get control over a killer virus that we have vaccines for. Nearly 1,500 people died in the US from Covid on August 20, 2021 with more to come if we don’t get this virus under control.
The US has about 330 million people. Approximately 50 million are under the age of 12, which leaves 280 million eligible to take the vaccine. To date, about 170 million people have been vaccinated leaving 110 million Americans age 12 and over eligible for the vaccine. But, they won’t take it for a variety of reasons. As a result, we are losing the battle by allowing the virus to mutate: causing more illness and killing people.
America clearly values individual choice over public health. The government (federal and state) won’t mandate vaccines or masks, leaving private industry to protect public health, which they are unwittingly doing in many places. In trying to understand why so many people won’t take the vaccine, I have often asked (in a nonjudgmental way) unvaccinated people to please explain to me why they won’t get the vaccine because I truly want to understand the resistance.
The reasons given include the government wants to control me and make me dependent upon them; the pharmaceutical companies just want to make money; the vaccine can cause Down Syndrome, I don’t want to put a virus into my body; its my body, my choice; I’m strong enough; and there’s not enough information on the long term effects of the vaccine. I was also told that it was the vaccinated who caused the Delta variant mutation.
The Government Wants to Control Me and Make Me Dependent Upon Them
Fearful people often speak of the government as if its this secret group of people when in fact, our government is a group of agencies overseen primarily by democrats and republicans who agree on virtually nothing so I find it startling that people actually believe this.
The Pharmaceutical Companies Just Want to Make Money
There is some truth to this statement but the pharmaceutical companies stand to make more money off sick people than those who are vaccinated. If people were really concerned about the pharmaceuticals making money off the population, then they would change their diet and lifestyle to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, and to reverse Type 2 diabetes as a first line effort instead of taking statins, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and other classes of drugs for which the companies make a fortune.
The Vaccine Can Cause Down Syndrome
The vaccine does not cause Down Syndrome. This fallacy probably spread because people with Down Syndrome have an increased risk of severe illness from the virus, according to the CDC (they are 4 times more likely to be hospitalized and 10 times more likely to die from the virus).
I Don’t Want To Put a Virus in my Body
There is no live or dead virus in the Covid vaccines. The vaccines contain genetic information on the virus to help your body produce an immune response to the virus, according to Kaiser.
My Body, My Choice
Americans value freedom and personal choice over almost anything. We all want to make our own decisions and don’t want anyone telling us what to do but that only works if your actions don’t negatively impact other people’s freedoms. People who don’t want to take the vaccine but who go out in public endanger others, not just themselves. If Covid only affected you, then I could understand the argument of choice but because people unknowingly spread the virus to others, personal choice should not be an option (unless there are underlying health conditions).
Covid has killed about 600,000 people in the US. Lets look at another disease that kills 600,000 Americans a year – heart disease. If you want to smoke, drink, eat unhealthy foods, and not exercise, that’s your choice. Your bad choices don’t lead to another person dying of heart disease (although smoking can endanger others through second hand smoke, which is why it is against the law to smoke in public places). But, your choice to NOT get vaccinated for Covid endangers others and can cause illness and death in others. And, this applies to wearing masks. If you don’t want to wear a mask to protect yourself, then wear a mask to protect others because at the end of the day, we are on this earth to help each other, not kill each other.
I’m Strong Enough
Most of us harbor thoughts of invincibility especially if we are active, eat healthy (although the definition of healthy varies from person to person), and live a clean lifestyle (i.e. no smoking, minimal or no drinking, avoid fast and processed food, etc). We think the odds are in our favor and they are. Yet, there is still risk. We will all face death and although some of us will have lower risks because of lifestyle choices, we are by no means immune from illness.
I may have a lower risk of heart disease because I follow a whole food plant based diet but I can still die of heart disease. I may have a lower risk of dying from Covid because my immune system is not compromised and I’m not obese or a Type 2 diabetic but I can still die from Covid. We can all die from Covid so don’t delude yourself.
There’s Not Enough Information on the Long-Term Effects of the Vaccine
Of all the reasons stated, this one has merit. There isn’t long-term information on the vaccine but there is short-term information from the CDC and FDA that shows the short term risks of being hospitalized or dying from Covid are greatly mitigated for the vaccinated.
And, finally in closing, it is important to note the vaccinated did not cause the Delta Covid variant. The Covid virus mutated because it was able to spread and in mutating, it now spreads faster and causes more illness.
Get Vaccinated, wear a mask; if not for yourself, do it for others.
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Although I can appreciate your perspective, making broad generalizations does not make them truthful (note: please don’t send me a bunch of links to conservative media outlets in answering the following questions; if you want me to post your comment, send specific information that backs up your position):
1. Please define exactly who the elite over-reaching government is;
2. Who exactly are the unelected bureaucrats who have a vested interest in exercising their ability to control and what is their vested interest?
3. There is bias in all media…always has been, always will be. But, please provide examples where a specific media banned opposing thought (and remember thought does not equate to truth…We saw that every single day when Trump was in office and even more recently when our elected Republican officials denied what happened on January 6th).
4. Please provide an example of the media promoting the erosion of freedom of choice (Fox is a clear leader in this, especially when it comes to a woman’s right to choose what she can do with her uterus; and note vaccination mandates and involving yourself in any woman’s reproductive decisions are not even remotely close);
5. Please provide an example of the media ignoring or suppressing information not supported by the science they selectively choose based on the narrative of the day; What science have they specifically ignored because when I go to the CDC and the FDA website, I would like to know what study is missing.
6. Covid does not mutate slowly (unless our definitions of “slowly” are different);
My list could go on and on but I will stop because it will be too lengthy. In closing, I will state that you missed 2 key points of the vaccine success: the vaccinations are VERY effective in reducing serious illness that requires hospitalization and in preventing death, if there is a breakthrough; and 2, the majority of those hospitalized and dying are the unvaccinated. As for your statement “we have to learn to deal with it,” I couldn’t disagree more. We have an obligation to each other and part of that obligation is not endangering others unnecessarily.
And finally, I will say there are many actions we all have to abide by to protect ourselves and others including (but not limited to):
1. We have to vaccinate (i.e. polio, small pox, measles, hepatitis B, Rotovirus, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A, meningitis, etc);
2. We have to wear seatbelts (this was a hot button back in the 80’s when people knew seat belts saved lives but didn’t want anyone telling them they had to wear a seatbelt);
3. We have to put our kids in child protective seats;
4. We have to leash our dogs;
5. We have to abide by licensing rules;
6. We have to have inspections of certain businesses;
7. We have to take a drivers test and pass a road test;
8. We have to buy car insurance (Again, I remember back in the 80’s when this was a hot topic because people were incensed that the state governments were going to require auto insurance and not just for those whose banks required them to);
Again, this list could go on and on. If you want to live in a society with others, then you have an obligation to others; your individual freedoms are not more important than someone else’s life (and this applies to gun control, too which is a topic for another day). Have you ever asked yourself why we have these laws/requirements? The simple reason is the rules are good for ALL OF US and there are too many people who won’t do the right thing unless its mandated.
Contrary to your statement, Covid is not manageable. I don’t call 1,500 or more deaths a day or 600,000 deaths a year due to Covid manageable. I also don’t call 600,000 deaths a year due to heart disease manageable. But, there is a key difference between the two: Personal choice transmits Covid and can cause illness and death in others; Personal choice does not transmit heart disease and cause serious illness and death in others. Telling the public (with certain exceptions just like other vaccinations) they need to be vaccinated to protect others (and themselves) is not treating them like a child – it’s doing the right thing.
The only topic that you addressed that I can understand is the lack of long-term data. But, the short term data on the CDC and FDA websites is very promising, especially in preventing serious illness that requires hospitalization and death. And, that’s huge.
Always enjoy your perspective. I am 66, vaccinated and no doubt would be labeled a conservative. I also personally believe it is worth the risks for someone my age to get a Covid 19 vaccine. That’s a personal choice I was pleased to make. Had I chosen not to, I would not consider myself a willing killer as one of your readers suggest.
Ann, I feel you glossed over your first point about the government desire to control. This is not a political party issue. It is about government control and un-elected bureaucrats who regardless of party affiliation having a vested interest in exercising their ability to control. There is great distrust by a country founded on reducing government control of their lives becoming increasingly suspicious of an elite over-reaching government that makes no secret of their distrust of those they presumably ‘serve’. Exacerbated by a biased media that bans opposing thought, promotes erosion of freedom and choice, ignores or suppresses information not supported by the science they selectively choose based on the narrative of the day (remember when vaccination would free us from masks and the vaccinated could not spread the virus?)
The premise of eliminating the virus through vaccination is likely a false premise. That depends on a SAFE, PROVEN vaccine that is nearly 100% effective against the virus and all mutations. The good news is that COVID mutates slowly. The bad news is that mutations appear to be much more transmissible. Trying to sell the idea that 70% vaccination with a vaccine that has proven to be less than 50% effective against mutations while those mutations comprise the vast majority of new cases runs counter to science and is an example of why so many distrust the messaging on the topic. Single-strand RNA viruses are exceptionally prone to frequent mutation and our best bet for long term management is a combination focusing efforts on the most vulnerable, natural immunity and vaccinations updated annually as are flu vaccines. Like flu vaccines, these vaccines will at times be extremely effective and at other times be mis-targeted providing spikes in infections and allowing new mutations to evolve. We have to learn to deal with it. Once this reality sets in, you will find that the US is better prepared than ‘enlightened’ countries like Japan, New Zealand, China etc. who are fighting a hopeless battle to eliminate the virus almost solely through vaccination and government control of freedom of movement and choice. Treat an American like a dependent child and saying they have to do something because effectively ‘I say so’ or they will lose their job, won’t be able to dine in a restaurant, travel etc. and you increase the chance of a negative reaction. Honest, consistent, non-judgemental information and ‘you make the right decision’ would have much better results. Unfortunately, the inept messaging and politicization to date may have made that too late for optimal results.
My pregnant daughter-in-law CHOSE not to potentially endanger the life of her unborn baby by taking a vaccine with as yet undocumented science as to potential birth defects or long term side effects. My immune compromised son CHOSE not to risk anaphylactic shock by taking a relatively unstudied new vaccine. My 71 year-old sister with multiple illnesses will likely CHOOSE not get a booster after the first Moderna vaccine caused a severe allergic reaction. Entirely reasonable for someone to question the long-term effects of a vaccine that is only 9 months in-use and as of this writing just now receiving FDA approval. Add these and similar circumstances like the inability to safely vaccinate children and the cultural distrust of government medical experimentation on the part of some black Americans, and you begin to understand the smaller than hoped for vaccination rates and the inevitability of a permanent but manageable COVID future.
Anne, thank you. It seems we are willingly killing each other for personal “freedom.”