I’ve been thinking a lot about vaccine hesitancy lately. The conversation I had with my hesitant friend last week is still on my mind quite a bit, especially the part where she said she was worried about the long-term effects. There’s a part of the conversation that I didn’t report.
When she told me she was concerned about the long-term effects of the vaccine, I blurted out:
“You drink Coke and you’re worried about the vaccine?!?”
She laughed in spite of herself, realizing that it was actually pretty funny.
I went on in that vein, that if you eat junk food then this is not a valid criticism. What about all the people who eat Chipotle??
Or drink blue beverages?
Or wear Axe Body Spray?
It’s true, though. My type is the much-reviled health nut, the scold, the “preachy” person who is out to ruin everyone’s fun. Sure, I’ll go with that.
Why, then, am I so eager to get this radically new, weird, and suspicious substance injected directly into my bloodstream, when I’m not willing to eat, say, Hot Cheetos?
Contrariwise, why are these people who are so laid-back, natural, normal, fun, whimsical, and popular about food and drink - why are these socially correct people so nervous and reluctant about one tiny little squirt of fluid?
The very same people who follow the 14-second rule?
If there is a single individual out there who will drink a Mountain Dew but will reject the vaccine, I would like that person’s number, so I can call them and laugh hysterically in their ear.
Oh ho ho ho, NOW you care about what goes into your body??
Of course I realize that there are tons of alternative-health people who are vaccine deniers. This makes even less sense to me. You spend all your spare time reading articles and going to conferences and watching videos to educate yourself about your health as much as possible - yet you’re willing to write off one of the single greatest boons to health of all human history?
This is such a mystery to me. Epidemic disease, the greatest scourge of human health of all time, dating back to the proto-hominids. Not even including the fatalities, epidemic diseases can cause permanent brain damage, skeletal deformations, hearing loss, blindness, skin lesions, heart and lung damage, infertility, and entire volumes of other health problems.
Sure, it’s natural, but then so are death and old age and wrinkles and gray hair.
There is a woo-woo belief out there that if you’re only just perfect enough, if you eat right and do your affirmations, then you can somehow be spiritually immune to disease.
As fascinating a hypothesis as that is, there is a rather large spiritual component that is missing from that formulation.
That is our moral duty to care for others, to be considerate of other sentient beings.
Maybe you don’t care at all whether you spread COVID-19 to other humans - maybe you have your reasons for believing that people do not rate - but what about gorillas and tigers?
There are dozens of mammals that are susceptible to this coronavirus, just like humans are, and some of them are highly vulnerable to species loss.
There are a lot of long-term effects of letting COVID-19 spread as far as it has. Animals are dying. Medical waste and packaging are proliferating like crazy and hurting and killing birds and sea life. We could put a stop to these things if we put a stop to the pandemic, and a massive global vaccination plan appears to be the only way to do that.
I’m assuming that anyone who is as interested in health food as I am would also be interested in spirituality, ethics, animal welfare, and the natural environment?
But maybe not. Maybe it’s all just anxiety in the form of an obsession with body purity.
Which, again, really makes me wonder. Why aren’t people more concerned with the aftereffects of COVID itself?
When my friend told me she was concerned about the long-term effects of the vaccine, I reminded her that I’ve been dealing with serious symptoms of COVID for ten months and counting. Did she really think that the vaccine would do anything worse than that??
All she could do was shrug.
I ask again. If you, too, are concerned about the long-term effects of the vaccine, do you think they would include:
Shortness of breath
I’m 45. I used to think I had a good chance of living to 111. Now I worry all the time that the virus took decades off my lifespan or that I will suddenly drop dead. A lot of coronavirus patients are sent home from the hospital, supposedly cured, only to die days, weeks, or months later.
I’m so worried about this early death problem, in fact, that I took a job largely to make sure I had life insurance.
If there are “long-term effects” of the vaccine, then when would they supposedly kick in? A year? Five years? Ten years? Twenty years? Forty years?
It seems funny to me that so many people, who had half a dozen or more vaccinations in childhood and were perfectly fine, are suddenly hesitant about yet another one. The same people are likely to get their tetanus boosters without question, because even the most die-hard vaccine skeptics realize that tetanus has a 10% kill rate. I’ve never once heard someone say they were concerned about the long-term effects of a tetanus shot.
Having had COVID-19, though, I don’t think I would care that much even if there were proven permanent negative effects from the vaccine. That’s because I have reason to believe that if I got COVID again, I would be dead within days.
At time of writing, over 26 million Americans have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. By the end of the week, that will probably equal the population of Texas. Isn’t it strange how so many people are getting their shots and yet they appear to be perfectly fine?
I don’t really know how to get more people to remember that they have had vaccines lots of times in the past, and that is probably why most of us don’t know anyone personally who had measles, or mumps, or rubella, or diphtheria, or whooping cough, or the others.
All I know to do is to try to help my audience work on talking points for those who are close to them who may be swaying, who may be close to the side of reason once again. All I know to do is to keep talking and refuse to pretend that it’s perfectly okay to reject the vaccine.
Because if only half of us get it, then there’s not much of a point. And what are the long-term effects of social loafing, slacking, and expecting others to do all the hard work of sustaining a human society?
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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