Enough already. We vaccine hesitant types are not buying what government and media are peddling ("Vaccine questions? Experts have answers," Aug. 3). For me, it is not that I am anti-vax. It is about those who have the latest information not sharing that information, so that we "hesitants" could make an informed decision that is right for us.
This is not intended to be a political or counter-view rant. It is intended to help the vaccine pushers understand what we hesitants are thinking and how you/they can better convince us that getting the vaccine would be a smart move.
It starts with honesty. When this whole thing began, we heard a lot of things from the experts, and we paid very close attention. After all, this was (and is) scary stuff. We listened to the experts and trusted that they were following the science.
Now, after more than a year and a half, it is disappointingly apparent that the experts really don't know as much as we thought. If you want me to take the jab, cut the malarkey and give it to us straight.
Step 1: Define the goal of the current pandemic response.
Government leaders should define for us exactly what they are attempting to accomplish with the vaccination push and resurgence of masking mandates and other restrictions.
Again, when we started all this, the stated goals were to do two things: first, to protect the most vulnerable in the population and second, to keep our health care system from being overwhelmed.
I have looked at the numbers every day since they have been published. It is indisputable that the initial goals have been achieved. Our health care system capacity is not being overwhelmed. And those most vulnerable, who have taken the vaccine, are not, we are told, the ones now being hospitalized and dying from COVID.
So please define for us what revised goal is being pursued here? Is the goal to eliminate any and all COVID cases? Is that realistic? What is it all about?
Step 2: Clarify current thinking on herd immunity.
What level of vaccine participation is truly needed to combat this virus? At the outset of the pandemic (and well before there was any vaccine), we were told by the public health officials that to achieve herd immunity, 65% of the population would need to be either vaccinated or to have had the virus. Lots of things to unpack here.
First, why does the percentage goal seem to be changing as time goes by? We are now told the goal is 70%. But is that percentage of adults, those 16 and older, or 12 and older? If you want me to take the jab stop moving the goalposts and give it to us straight.
Second, and probably the most important issue in this whole dialogue, is being clear about how to treat those recovered COVID cases. Why are those numbers, which are not insubstantial, not included in the accounting of getting to herd immunity? What happened along the way that led to those numbers not being a factor in our collective favor? This is the type of information that is vital to build the public trust.
Step 3: Publish data on adverse side effects and the efficacy of the different vaccines.
This information is certainly being gathered, but it is not being shared with the public. That is a problem. Tell us how these vaccines are stacking up against one another. Which is the most effective? Which is least effective? Hiding this information only increases skepticism.
We are all more than familiar with pharmaceutical commercials, which are required to provide long lists of cautions and potential side effects for the drugs being marketed. Do the same for these experimental vaccines. We are now several months into the use of these vaccines; I want to know what, if any, side effects are resulting from each of these vaccines.
Step 4: What is the medical necessity for taking a vaccine if one has previously had the virus?
I have had the unfortunate experience of being talked into a medical procedure that was unnecessary and nearly cost me my life. As I result, I am absolutely hesitant to move forward with any type of medical procedure unless I do my homework and make an informed decision. Provide us a transparent and cogent argument for why the vaccine (with its potential side effects) is better than the antibodies an individual has resulting from a previous case of COVID.
Is the goal merely to attain the vaccination goal numbers or is there an absolute benefit of the vaccine over the natural antibodies? Give it to us straight.
If there is an equal or near equal benefit from the natural antibodies, then why are we not introducing an interim step of testing for those antibodies prior to administering a dose of the vaccine? This step, which would take less than five minutes, has not been encouraged. Why? Before you take a vaccine that has only been approved for emergency use shouldn't you first want to know if you already have antibodies that might provide you some level of protection? My curiosity cost me $53 because it wasn't covered by insurance.
Step 5: When will the COVID vaccines be fully approved by the FDA and what is the process that the pharmaceutical companies are going through to get that authorization?
Purchasers of the vaccine are required to acknowledge that "… the long-term effects and efficacy of the vaccine are not currently known and that there may be adverse effects of the vaccine that are not currently known."
I acknowledge that the development of these vaccines has been an incredible achievement, incredibly important in managing the pandemic to this point. But it is also important to acknowledge that the immediate emergency of the pandemic has been successfully managed. The most vulnerable have been either vaccinated or given access to the vaccines. The health care system is not being overwhelmed and therapeutic treatments make successful outcomes more likely than ever. What is the emergency that we now need to manage?
Despite my hesitance, I am close to doing my part and getting the vaccine. But I am not quite there yet. If I had access to the type of information I am suggesting it would certainly help me get comfortable. Unfortunately, I suspect those with the information will continue to not share it, and we should all be concerned about that.
We should not be doing anything, especially in matters concerning our own health, just because the government tells us to. That is dangerous and should be a warning to us all to remember who should be working for whom.
James Todd Adams lives in Maple Grove.