I was sad to see the headline in the LA Times yesterday, but not surprised. A large number of California’s healthcare workers are refusing to get vaccinated against Covid and it’s created an uproar. The article, entitled, Some healthcare workers refuse to take COVID-19 vaccine, even with priority access, has created an uproar and highlights systemic failures within the current government’s vaccine campaign.
It has also highlighted the ethical dilemmas around vaccination and vaccine safety at a time we can least afford it. Are these healthcare workers within their personal and professional right to refuse the vaccine?
The problem California’s frontline healthcare is highlighting is not a vaccine issue. They trust vaccines. They are almost to a man (women, other) vaccinated and they vaccinate their children. Their problem is one of trust. If the covid vaccine had been touted as a medicine or treatment rather than a vaccine, they would still be refusing it. It’s just hugely unfortunate, at this point in our history, that it happens to be a vaccine.
I’ve linked to the tweet of the article below to allow you to gauge the public response, which is an overriding one of indignant anger. Should we be upset with these healthcare professionals and do we have the right?
Safety and Obligation
The obvious and most worrying issue posed by their decision not to get vaccinated is the question of safety, not to the nurses and doctors themselves, but to patients, particularly the high-risk sectors of the community. Do the unvaccinated doctors pose a greater risk to patients in terms of transmission of the coronavirus to patients?.
Many elderly patients require constant medical attention for one ailment or another. The same applies to people with known risk vectors, high blood pressure, heart conditions, obesity, etc. Do they now have the right to refuse care from professionals that have chosen not to receive the vaccine? Do patients have a right to be told who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t?
And what of the healthcare workers? Are they not obliged, in the interests of patient safety to take the vaccine. Are they not obliged, as responsible members of the medical community to set an example.
Perhaps, the most relevant question is this. Why do these science-based professionals not trust the process and assurances given by Pfizer, Moderna, and the FDA regarding the safety of the vaccine? A small percentage of these individuals suffer from the same issues that trouble the public. A lack of reliable information. Conflicting narratives have plagued the war against covid in the US from the outset.
Should we perhaps consider enforcing vaccination for certain public-facing sectors that offer vital services? For example, should vaccination be compulsory for healthcare, policing, and social services, not to mention the politicians?
It’s a complex, ethical nightmare riddled with really complex questions, some of which I have raised above and unfortunately, most of the blame for the current sad state of affairs must be laid squarely at the door of the Republicans and the incumbent President.
To try and understand the positions of the healthcare workers who, don’t forget, are still risking life and limb, vaccinated or not, let’s try and unpack the individual components that have led us to this point. They will point to why the vaccine itself is actually not the major underlying reason for people’s refusal of it.
The role of Trump’s toxic America
President Donald Trump’s lasting legacy will be the American divisions he highlighted and fed during his four years in office. He inherited a divided America and he has amplified those divisions for his own gain.
America has for decades been divided along party lines. It’s been nasty, sometimes unpleasant, and, at times, downright dirty, but there was always a thin veneer of civility and humanity plastered across the festering sore of political division.
Trump tore away this social bandage and has continued throughout his four-year tenure, to pour poison into the wound, feeding his own agendas at the expense of the American soul. Americans, duly primed, erupted, spurred on by the ever-supportive yes-men of the Republican Party.
Guilt for the current pandemic response, perhaps better described as a clusterfuck of monumental proportions, is shared equally by all Republican politicians and should be owned accordingly. No political maneuvering by them can obfuscate their complicity in the sea of misinformation and the resulting loss of American lives. Their sad legacy continues to hound the covid vaccine.
Trust was one of the first victims of this remorseless onslaught. Decades of questionable but “sounds iffy, but we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt” believability in the American political system was destroyed overnight.
It is this absence of trust that lies at the heart of the Californian worker’s refusal to be vaccinated. They no longer trust the system or any players involved in the system that created the vaccine. Read Pfizer, Moderna, the FDA, CDC, HHS, Lightspeed, or any other government agency or associated party.
Every one of the large Pharma companies was embedded with government agencies over the last few months, all hoping to be the first across the finishing line. Many prominent US politicians, it can be argued, are in the pockets of, or politically beholding to, large pharma. Money and favors have undoubtedly changed hands in the past few months and will continue to do so.
The FDA and CDC have squandered most of their credibility over the course of the pandemic. Once seen as the bastions of American healthcare and the seat of reliable and trustworthy information and opinion, their voices are now questioned openly and their halcyon days may never return.
A complete press and social media crackdown on any contrary Covid related material was also seen by many as an attempt to control the narrative and sell an official story. A typical backlash to any form of censorship.
So from a systemic point of view, can you really blame the covid vaccine? It is a victim of circumstance and is viewed by many Americans as a product of a corrupt and unethical Kabal, led by the king of falsehoods and ably supported by his minions.
Equally, can you blame individuals for questioning the narrative (regarding safety) produced by this Kabal to sell the vaccine to the public? Remember this is the same group that was telling us not to wear masks, that failed to provide any logistical support for healthcare workers early into the pandemic, and that has failed at every turn to effectively combat Covid. They lied for months and continue to do so.
Why believe them now? Why gamble with your health on a product simply because they assure you it is safe? Any rational debate centered on the covid vaccine issue cannot ignore the fact that this erosion of trust is a key component. Restoring trust is a long and challenging process that requires time, a luxury we currently do not have. So what alternatives are there?
Does your Government have the right to enforce vaccination? There are no doubt proponents for this course of action within the US and other governments globally.
The answer is an emphatic and resounding NO. This would be an egregious violation of your human rights and your freedom to choose. You are not simply a vessel of the state, but an individual with rights and personal freedoms. Additionally, your current vaccination status should in no way impact your life or be used to deny you access to services.
This extends to making any form of employment dependant on taking the vaccine or being vaccinated. The reason is simple and straightforward. There is no scientific data to suggest that vaccinated people will not shed the coronavirus. As far as we know, the vaccinated are still a vector for infections. It’s why we are still advised to wear masks after we’ve been vaccinated.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly what the vaccine does to your body, so we’re all on the same page. Importantly, to start with, vaccines aren’t an impenetrable shield against viruses. They are simply a tool to enable your body to combat viral intruders more effectively, preventing you from developing a serious reaction to specific viruses.
You can still contract the coronavirus after being vaccinated, the difference is that vaccinated people are far less likely to develop serious illness (covid). Vaccinated people will get flu-like symptoms (or perhaps none) for a few days and then you can get on with your life. A far better alternative to weeks of hospitalization and the very real prospect of death.
The vaccine isn’t foolproof. Some vaccinated people will still become seriously ill, realistically that figure is probably between 5 and 10% of those who are vaccinated, potentially it could be far fewer. Again, we still lack sufficient data. We don’t have exact numbers and this isn’t proof the vaccine doesn’t work, it simply means it isn’t 100% effective at stopping serious covid infections.
Extrapolate that percentage into the current deaths in the US and your figure drops from over 350 000 dead to between 17 and 35 000 people. That’s a lot of people who could have been around to celebrate 2021 but aren’t, and it’s why the vaccine really matters.
The accompanying strain on medical resources from a high death toll is also a major issue that impacts patients requiring urgent medical attention for any number of non-covid related conditions. Full hospitals cant offer you a bed when you may desperately need one.
With the very real possibility of another 350 000 Americans dying from covid in 2021 the danger is far from over. The difference now is that we finally do have access to a vaccine, numerous actually. As of now, getting people vaccinated is critical to reducing deaths in the coming months. That is a fact.
Will the Vaccine slow the virus down?
We cannot argue at this point, based on scientific data, that the vaccination will slow the spread of Covid. That is a disingenuous and misleading statement and although it may prove true in the coming months, we just don’t have the data to currently support that statement, so we shouldn’t make it or use it to justify getting vaccinated. The truth is what matters now.
Whatever statements epidemiologists may make at this point regarding the vaccine and transmission, these are conjectural, based on assumptions and modeling that is not yet supported by any existing data.
Stop persecuting healthcare professionals. NOW.
This covid vaccine is a personal choice. It always was and always will be. That doctor or nurse who has refused the vaccine because of personal concerns is fully within their rights to do so. They are also within their rights to expect that decision to remain private.
It’s not a choice they’ve made lightly and it doesn’t mean they will stop treating covid patients. They will still expose themselves to the risks, they just choose to rely on their own body’s defense mechanism. It is their choice.
The covid vaccine doesn’t make them any less capable of treating you and possibly saving your life, at risk to their own. It also, as we have established, doesn’t make them any more or less of a risk for transmitting covid.
So please stop your persecution of them on social media and in the press. They are putting their lives on the line, not yours, and to be honest, you’re in no position to pass judgment, so stop.
What we actually know about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines
The following isn’t lab-based or trial data, but real facts for consideration when you assess the covid vaccine. Hopefully, this will assist you in making your own personal decision.
- Over 3 million Americans have already been vaccinated against Covid. This excellent resource from the New York Times will keep you up to speed.
- None of those vaccinated have died whilst receiving the vaccine. It’s given under strict medical supervision and in the very rare event of an anaphylactic (allergic respiratory response) reaction, doctors or nurses are on hand to offer treatments.
- To my knowledge, and we are a few weeks into the vaccination program, none of those vaccinated have died as a direct result of the vaccine. Those are pretty good odds in favor of a good outcome for you.
- It is far too soon to make assessments about the long-term effects, if any, of the vaccines, but these concerns are limited to younger candidates.
It would appear that both Moderna and Pfizer’s products are safe, based on the above figures. Long term effects aren’t a consideration at this point, particularly for the elderly. Today and tomorrow matter far more than events ten years away when you’re seventy. So if you’re elderly, definitely get vaccinated. If you’re in an at-risk category, get vaccinated.
We cannot address concerns over long-term safety until the vaccine has been in the marketplace for months and possibly years. The same is true of any drug. Currently, the benefits of vaccination for the aged by far outweigh any undocumented long term risks that may or may not be present in the vaccines.
What about the other covid vaccines?
Slow down, and the FDA should take heed of this warning. You risk jeopardizing the reputation of your two successes by rushing through other EUA’s. There is a strong argument to be offered in terms of more rigorous testing prior to licensing additional vaccines and there is no longer the urgent need.
We know Pfizer’s and Modena’s vaccines don’t pose a risk, based on actual evidence in the field. Three million is a lot of ‘trial’ subjects.
Authorizing every new applicant to the market should now be done with far more circumspection and require more rigorous testing to ensure safety.. There is a definite risk involved with a rushed product and just because two companies have succeeded, huge companies with limitless resources, doesn’t mean that every other vaccine will be safe or without issues.
Releasing one of these vaccines that could potentially prove dangerous to the public would be an unmitigated disaster to vaccination campaigns and the urgency has passed.
Pfizer and Moderna have offered us the opportunity to slow things down a little and apply more robust checks and balances on other vaccines. We should avail ourselves of the opportunity and be far more circumspect.
This brings me to my final points. Reputation and resources.
Both Pfizer and Moderna are massive companies that can not afford to fail. They have staked their reputations on the success of their products and this shouldn’t be overlooked.
Failure on a global scale would be spectacular, and the results crippling for any company.
Secondly, the fact that all America’s top tier politicians and healthcare workers have been targeted as first recipients for the vaccine speaks volumes to the manufacturer’s confidence in their products. While few tears would have been shed for the politicians, the healthcare industry matters.
Kill off all America’s healthcare frontline and we’d really be up the proverbial creek hunting for a paddle. This reason alone would make me seriously consider the vaccine were I in your positions, troubled by uncertainty, rumors, and misinformation. Look at what is happening on the ground.
A final word for the US media
Now, more than ever, you need to avoid your clickbait headlines, particularly if it involves the use of the word vaccine.
Show restraint and research topics thoroughly. Be circumspect in what you choose to publish. Your business of selling the early morning addition shouldn’t pose a threat to public health. That is something that can and will be regulated under a Biden administration.
The cowboys are leaving the building.