My previous essay was entitled Vaccine Hesitancy. I follow that essay with a similar title, Vaccine Hesitancy 2.0, because I think this is a very important issue that needs urgent attention. The fourth surge can be entirely laid at the feet of the unvaccinated, as it is only the unvaccinated that require hospitalization and are the ones that are dying. Folks, there is no one else to blame. I am puzzled by this new phenomenon, which in my half-century experience in medicine and surgery has never come up, except in a group of people called anti-vaccers, who refuse to vaccinate their children for a variety of reasons, religion, fear of autism, and just general kookiness. But to see almost half the population fear vaccination is a new phenomenon. I have heard some pretty screwball reasons for not getting vaccinated. For instance I don’t want to become sterile, or they inject microchips into you so they can control you, or Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci created the virus so they could profit from the sale of vaccines. These are among many more crazy conspiracy theories that are just off the wall. Two main demographics are afraid to get vaccinated, white Republican males and people of color. There are not many characteristics linking these two diverse groups. But both have a deep-rooted distrust of big government. I think it is that issue that fuels most of the fear of vaccination.
Past vaccinations have mostly come from medical research and have been promoted by the medical profession. This is the first time that the government has been the agency that has promoted vaccination. I have given a lot of vaccinations over the last half-century and have not seen any serious consequences. I realize that bad things can happen, but they are extremely rare, like one in a million. The purpose of vaccination is to eliminate the much more serious consequence of the diseases that they are designed to fight. Those diseases have a mortality of a lot higher than one in a million.
When I was drafted into the military during the Vietnam conflict, I was the physician in charge of the vaccination program at my Base. I did not give the shots. My nurses did that, even though most of them outranked me. I was just a Captain then, and many of them had been in the military much longer and were Majors or higher, but I was professionally higher in rank. As soon as the FDA fully approves the Covid vaccines, the military will incorporate those vaccines in their mandated panel, as the danger of having the majority of the fighting force open to this plague is an untenable risk to national security.
- COVID-19 (corona virus)
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Japanese encephalitis
- Meningococcal meningitis
- Pneumococcal disease
- Tick-borne encephalitis
- Yellow Fever
- Covid-19 still voluntary at this point
But in two years and thousands of doses, I did not have one serious event, including getting mine. The worst was a couple of recruits who fainted. See above for the shortlist of vaccinations that could be given depending on the deployment of the soldier. Working in emergency rooms for more time than I care to admit, I shot a lot of DPT, and DT (Diphtheria +Pertussis+ Tetanus and Diphtheria+Tetanus) vaccine into people’s arms, along with a lot of MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) and Trivalent Polio Vaccine during my days as a General Practitioner, again not one significant reaction. But a lot of kids did not get Measles, Mumps, Rubella, or Polio, all of which have serious consequences, including death, and Rubella can cause horrible heart defects, brain abnormalities, diabetes, and deafness if a pregnant mother should get it. Until Jonas Salk came up with his Polio vaccine, a lot of people got “Infantile Paralysis,” which destroyed their lives! I remember the braces that some of my schoolmates had to wear so they could walk. The “Iron Lungs” on the Polio wards at LA Couty Hospital during my Internship were a sad testament to those that did not get vaccinated.
The Covid vaccines are very safe and statically more so than all the ones I used, which have a risk ratio of 1 to 1,000,000 of serious reactions. The Johnson and Johnson, the supposedly most dangerous of the Covid vaccines, has a death risk of 1 to 3,500,000, making it three and one-half times safer than what I dished out. People please get a grip! Think and look at the evidence! It is not rocket science! The anti-vacc rhetoric is changing. More and more radio and TV personalities are promoting getting vaccinated in their message. Even Phil Valentine, a well known conservative Radio personality who is seriously ill with Covid, is pleading with his audience to go get vaccinated! Add to that Mitch McConnell (Senate Minority Leader), Steve Scalise (Minority Whip), Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy (both Fox TV hosts), every physician member of Congress on both sides of the aisle, 17 in all, except for Rand Paul who has had Covid, Kamala Harris, Karim Abdul-Jabbar, Barack and Michelle Obama, Tyler Perry, Rupert Murdoch (conservative billionaire and owner of Fox), and many more.
55 professional organizations produced a joint statement to demand all workers in health and long term care should be mandated to be vaccinated including: The American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American College of Pharmacy, American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association (AMA), American Nursing Association (ANA), American Pharmacists Association, American Psychiatric Association (APA), American Society of Hematology (ASH), Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), American Hospital Association (AHA), and more! All UC schools have just announced they will mandate vaccination and most colleges and universities across the country have done the same or are on the verge of mandating vaccinations. These are some of the smarter people we have on this planet. I leave it to you to decide what that makes you? If you do not believe our doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and academics, nothing I say will change your mind. I feel sorry for you, and “MAY GOD HELP YOU!”
Even Donald Trump and Melania got their vaccination, for God’s Sake!
To be or not to be…? To be or not to be vaccinated, that is the question? I am shocked by the number of people I consider intelligent human beings that are not going to get the vaccine. The number of people that are not going to get vaccinated will prevent the nation from attaining herd immunity! That is more than selfish! I have been a physician for over half a century, and I am convinced this vaccine is as safe as it can be. Having been in the military and traveling worldwide, I have been vaccinated for pretty much everything and am still alive. I was not affected by Mercury or Formaldehyde poisoning, and had just a little fever with some of them. I am sure that no government agency is tracking me either (unless, of course, I wear my aluminum foil helmet that transmits the signal to the secret location of the trackers –just kidding). The benefits outweigh the risks by a wide margin. You are more likely to be killed by lightning (lifetime risk 1 in 15,000), or a drive to the corner grocery store (lifetime risk 1 in 100). The most dangerous vaccine, Johnson and Johnson, has killed 1 in 3,500,000. Yet you are still at risk for getting the virus that has a mortality of 1% to 10% depending on where you live, how old you are, and what other co-morbidities you have. The overall mortality from COVID-19 in the US is currently 1.8%, which included one of my best friends while he was waiting his turn to be vaccinated. The anti-vaccers are opposed to any vaccine based on sparse or false evidence of the dangers of the vaccine. The vaccine-hesitant are just not sure. There are two vaccine averse demographics that have very little in common except that they do not trust the government, the white Republican males, and the African Americans. The latter bring up Tuskegee. The white male Republicans have a relentless distrust of government.
I do believe that anyone who does not want to be vaccinated should not be forced to be vaccinated. What should be injected into your body should remain your right to decide. But at the same time, I believe that you have no right to subject others to the risk of getting infected by your virus. If you are not vaccinated, you have a higher risk of getting the virus and passing it on to others that have or have not been vaccinated. I am not opposed to Vaccine Passports to prove that you have had the vaccine. Those should not be government-mandated. Various governmental agencies, including Dr. Fauci, have claimed that there will be no government-issued passport. By the same token, I will not fly in an airplane full of unvaccinated people. I want all my fellow passengers to be as unlikely to infect others and me as possible. Nor do I want to sit next to unvaccinated people in a restaurant, a theater, or a sporting event. These services have the responsibility to tell me if they do or do not require vaccination. Although it is still possible to be vaccinated and be a carrier, being vaccinated makes that very unlikely (kind of like Twilight Zone). I believe that private businesses have a right to demand that consumers of their products be unlikely to pass on their viruses. By the same token, each business must decide whether to demand customers be vaccinated or not frequent their premises. But they have an obligation to let me know what they do. Businesses reserve the right to refuse service to anyone—no shirt, no service, or in this case, no passport, no pizza. I, the consumer, then can choose to frequent or avoid that business. The only way to implement this is to show your Vaccination Passport, which is far less intrusive than the scarlet letter “A” tattoo on the forehead (in this case, “V”). I do believe in rights, but I also have a right to be as safe as possible.
Typhoid was a major killer in the 1900s. Public Health tracked down the source, Mary Mallon, a.k.a. “Typhoid Mary,” who spread the typhoid bacillus. She had been imprisoned once before because she caused several deaths from Typhoid, and they warned her to stop being a cook, a waitress, a spreader of the disease, but she did not. She went “underground,” moved, and changed her name. Finally, the only choice was to imprison her again. She died in 1938, having been confined for a total of 26 years. The people that refuse to get vaccinated but still want to fly in airplanes, that want to go to restaurants, movies, and sporting events are like Typhoid Mary. Showing proof of vaccination is much less of an imposition than quarantine or imprisonment. But if it comes to that, there really are no other choices. And it should be ironclad so that you cannot get a forged passport on the “Black Market.” If you do, Typhoid Mary’s fate should be your fate because, like Mary, you show no regard for your fellow human, nor do you respect what the best current knowledge is. We are social beings and therefore have an obligation to do what is in the best interest of our fellow humans and not injure or infect them.
Freedom is a constitutional right given to all of us, but it does not permit abandonment of your constitutional responsibility not to harm others.