Scientific knowledge is always developing and altering, but with this in mind, how much can we know about a vaccine that hasn’t been around long-term? The truth is, we can’t be certain, and won’t be for a while, so it’s only natural that some people feel uneasy over it, even if they’ve had vaccinations in the past.
People Are Skeptical, and You Can’t Blame Them
I find it difficult to fault peers with skepticism, especially when they’re young and likely have natural immunity to COVID regardless. When natural immunity remains present, I can imagine there’s anger from people feeling pressured to be vaccinated, especially when the decision should be a personal and private thing. With those in positions of authority continuing to add pressure on the young, the choice almost becomes non-existent; the action becomes guilt-driven and demeaning.
Some people don’t want to take their chances with “mostly” safe.
The conversation on vaccines has also become very tense. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always been like this (usually with one side being shut down and degraded more quickly), but questioning the new vaccine and its safety has become a fury-switch for many, almost in disbelief that some may have the “audacity” to be concerned. If you go to any government or medical site, they will tell you that the vaccine is “mostly” safe, and even though this is usually just a legal precaution, some people don’t want to take their chances with “mostly” – especially when they’re naturally built to fight it. Should we really be pressuring people to take chances for things they don’t want (and probably don’t even need)?
People Care about Long-Term Data
Before I start, I’d like to point out that I in no way think that this vaccine was just pulled out of some Betty Crocker cookbook and thrown out with hopes for the best. I know scientists have been studying coronaviruses for years, but we were desperate for this vaccine, and we’re still in the trial stages — this is even stated throughout vaccination sites, including Pfizer. Trials will continue for another two years, collecting safety and efficacy data. So while I’ve not ruled out having the vaccine completely, forgive me for not having as much faith in it as I do with those that have been developed and studied for years, even prior to my existence.
Most I’ve spoken to privately on this topic feel the same way. They aren’t the “tinfoil hat” conspiracists they’ve been branded – they’re people who have had vaccines throughout their lives for things such as MMR or even flu, but they’ve done these things with security and sufficient knowledge, and done so comfortably too. People want to know that what’s being injected in their bodies is as safe as possible, so just because someone young may not want it now, it doesn’t mean they’re “anti-vax.” It just means they want to stay on the safe side. Thalidomide left babies disabled, the Cutter Incident left 164 with paralysis, and even today, the AstraZeneca was paused over growing blood-clot concerns. These are rarities, but they still influence people’s decisions, and those are decisions they’re entitled to make.
IF You Suffer…You Probably Won’t Be Compensated
Good morning, America, it’s not the seventies anymore. That’s right, back in the seventies (and early eighties) pharmaceutical companies paid out millions for vaccine injury lawsuits. Then, in 1986, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, protecting vaccine manufacturers from all liability, and simply establishing separate compensation programs for those with side effects instead. But these are rarely used as the process is incredibly complex – leaving family members who seek out this compensation for their loved ones in the dark.
The 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act protects vaccine manufacturers from all liability.
Even in the UK, pre-COVID, if a vaccination left you severely disabled, you’d receive a one-off tax-free payment of £120,000. Though COVID has been added to the vaccine damages fund, someone injured by a COVID-19 vaccine is less protected than a person injured by other vaccines. To claim compensation for the COVID vaccine, you must have a 60% disability as a direct result of getting the COVID vaccine. With other vaccines, you can chance the court case and sue for more compensation even if you suffer what’s considered to be less than 60% disability. If the COVID vaccine is as safe and secure as those governing state it is, then it would make more sense for them to put their money where their mouth is and roll out large (“just-in-case”) payment promises to the public. If their faith in the vaccine is so strong, they can offer compensation to the “incredibly rare” cases of suffering for a vaccine they so whole-heartedly advertise.
“If You’re Worried about the Vaccine, You Should Also Be Worried about…”
This is the worst argument. Sincerely. Throughout the release of the different vaccines, any time I’ve been even slightly skeptical, the first thing I hear is “Well, birth control is even worse” – and I’m sure it is, but one, I’m not taking the pill, and two, when did the two become exclusive anyway? It’s a ridiculous disputing point. The exclusivity issue between these things makes for a weak and pathetic debate. Over and over it’s “If you’re concerned about X, then you should be concerned about Y.” But I do have — in fact, most people have — the capacity to be concerned about more than one thing.
And look, serious adverse vaccine reactions are rare, but they’re still possible, and to those who say, “Well, you could walk outside right now and be hit by a car, that’s possible,” I’m sure it is. But all of those things would be based on actions I took and decisions I made leading up to it. People actively go out and get vaccinated; whether you choose to or not should remain a personal choice that no one else should have influence over.
“Having the Vaccine Is Better Than Getting COVID”
Sure, and to even add to the other side’s argument, we don’t even truly know the long-term effects of COVID either, but…I’m not out actively trying to catch it. I can be concerned about the potential consequences of the vaccine and also do my best to avoid getting COVID. I can respect the efforts made to tackle the epidemic while not really wanting the vaccine myself, even if I’m told time and time again that it’s “better than getting COVID.”
Why should someone young and perfectly healthy feel pressured to put themselves at risk?
And who’s to say this is for certain anyway, especially in my age group? I’d even go as far as to say that some would probably prefer contracting COVID than chance the vaccine. A Clark County teen suffered three clot-related brain surgeries following her Johnson and Johnson vaccine; the CDC called urgent meetings to investigate 226 cases of heart inflammation in teenage boys after having Pfizer or Moderna shots; women are constantly reporting menstrual distortions after taking the vaccine. So again, while these things are still rarities, why should someone young and perfectly healthy with natural immunity to COVID feel pressured to put themselves at (even a small) risk of any of these things? They shouldn’t.
My final point is probably my main one – no one should feel guilty for caring about their own health. Yet, here we are. I’m not “anti-vax” or “anti-science.” In fact, most of the people skeptical aren’t – they’re just people who care about their own health and are making what they deem is the best decision. Shaming and guilting people isn’t going to make them want to take the vaccine. If anything, it’s going to leave them more suspicious, whilst also feeling singled out.
With pressure from the government, alongside brands and social media pages, all building advertisements for vaccinations to the youth, it can all feel a little dystopian and strange. Vaccinations aren’t yet mandatory, but as it stands, your freedoms become fewer the longer you refuse to take one – which isn’t fair to the youth, who have already sacrificed so much of their prime in the last two years.
You can get the vaccine. In fact, I’d advise vulnerable groups to take it (I would, if I were in one, anyway). Personally, I don’t want to be vaccinated right now, and, in a perfect world, you’d disagree with me and the argument would simply end there – but it hasn’t, and that should be of great concern to all of us.
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