by Madison Paloski
As seen in our fifth print issue "Summer Heat", available now!
It’s no secret that getting the COVID-19 vaccine has been the most widely debated topic in 2021. Whether it be political, religious, or just out of personal choice, many people are deciding to opt-out from getting vaccinated and are dividing the US between those who are willing to and those who are not. But is this divide going to help us finally reach the end?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 vaccines were developed using science that has been around for decades, are not experimental, and have received and continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Many people remain skeptical of whether or not to trust the CDC in regards to this information. However, these same people have trusted other vaccines and have received them through their local doctor's offices, so the real debate seems more out of fear than just about vaccines.
An article in The New York Times titled “Faith, Freedom, Fear: Rural America’s Covid Vaccine Skeptics” is a thoughtful read detailing the resistance in white republican communities, specifically one in Appalachia. Although they say it is not political, many expressed in the article that they are unsure of the long-term effects of the vaccine and that it was developed in haste. With these groups of people, there are certain ways to reach this mindset. As stated by Dr. Leana Wen in an interview with CNN, the main way to regard this group of people is to make vaccines easy and trustworthy. To do this, she suggests getting rid of the scariness attached to mass vaccination sites and instead of putting the vaccine in the hands of physicians, pharmacists, churches, and clinics, all places that these people know to trust. All it takes is one trustworthy person in the community to take the lead and create a chain reaction amongst the community to get the vaccine. This would show that changing your mindset and believing science can lead to being reunited with family and friends, and living life as what a pre-pandemic 2021 could look like, which can be enticing to others in the community.
"The main sector who need to get the vaccine to drive herd immunization is young people”
The proof is in those who refused vaccination and then turned fatal when catching the life-threatening virus. Although Michele Preissler was vaccinated, her husband was still on the fence. Even though he was reluctant, he planned to get the shot eventually, but things turned to the worst-case scenario before he even had the chance. After catching COVID at a family wedding, her husband was hospitalized after a month, and not long after that, he knew he was going to die. To this day, Preissler still mourns the death of her husband and is haunted by his final choice.
Another example can be found in Josh Garza, who was lucky enough to survive after a double lung translate. Although he was one of the first categories of people eligible for the vaccine, he told ABC News he didn’t want to be categorized as a “Vaccine Guinea Pig”. He explained how he thought that everything he was doing was good enough, but ended up still getting COVID-19. A mere few days away from dying, a double lung transplant saved his life and he now lives to say he regrets his decision because he now knows the vaccine could have spared him.
After four months hospitalized, Garza said, “if I could do it all over again, no doubt. I will get the vaccine.”
The main sector of people who need to get the vaccine to drive herd immunization is young people (we’re looking at you readers!). According to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, adults 20 to 49 are the super spreaders leading COVID- 19 surges. The longer coronavirus spreads, the more it mutates, which we have already seen starting to occur. The key to ending this pandemic isn’t just to get vaccinated, it’s to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Although we’re getting a taste of normalcy this summer, it’s important to remember we’re not entirely in the clear yet. Dr. Leana Wen warned the US that with the world opening up and as back to normal as much as you can be post-pandemic, people are going to start enjoying the world and be complacent towards their decision to not get vaccinated and still be able to enjoy the normalcy. With this spike, she worries that those who are on the fence about getting vaccinated will ultimately choose not to because of the pace at which places are opening. This is all good in the summer and the fall, but with winter, cases could start to rise again restarting this whole process.
With the more vaccines rolling out, the more the economy has been boosted by being able to open up at full capacity again at longer hours. Many restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and sporting venues are now able to cater to larger crowds making business boom for the first time in over a year. People have been hit more economically during this pandemic than ever before so this surge has been a huge relief on many shoulders, especially those who own small businesses. In order to keep this boom up, it’s important to make sure that states are pushing vaccination rollouts. Businesses are doing the best they can to say thank you and drive morale to get the shot by offering incentives for anyone who shows proof of vaccination, including free menu items.
In response, Los Angeles internal medicine specialist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez announced, “If you want to open up America, get vaccinated.”
To end on a happy note, it’s important to see just how much the vaccine has helped since it first rolled out. A Washington Post analysis has found that states with higher vaccination rates now have fewer coronavirus cases. Infections are dropping in places where most residents have been immunized and are rising in many places people have not. Amongst the states rolling out more vaccines and having fewer cases, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island have been at the forefront. Rhode Island had a daily average of over 1,000 cases in December and now, as of June 2021, has a daily average of 26 cases. Even though there is still a chance of catching COVID once vaccinated, health care workers have been applauding that their exhausting workdays are being alleviated with a drop in cases being hospitalized from the virus. So, do your part in flattening the curve, and please, believe in science!
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