The initial wave of pent-up demand and enthusiasm for the COVID-19 vaccine has started to fade and now health officials are put in the unusual spot of having to try to convince people to take the vaccine to protect themselves and others.
Polling on vaccines has pretty consistently identified about 30% of the U.S. populace declare they will never get a COVID-19 vaccine, a level of resistance that puts efforts to obtain herd immunity as a wider community protection in jeopardy.
Many are saying no because they view the COVID-19 vaccine — developed and deployed in less than a year as part of the Trump-fueled Operation Warp Speed — as “experimental.”
Yes, vaccines typically aren’t developed so quickly. Then again, vaccines aren’t often developed for diseases that are ravaging the entire planet right now, either.
The mRNA vaccine delivery systems of the Pfizer and Moderna two-shot vaccines are new technology, but they weren’t created overnight in March 2020. That technology has been in development and testing for about a decade and this became the first good opportunity to deploy it on a mass scale.
These vaccines went through clinical trials in a sample population same as any vaccine or medication being created and seeking use approval, albeit on a compressed time scale to what was normal.
To some extent, COVID-19 vaccinations are an experiment but the experiment is turning out to be highly, highly successful, with more encouraging data pouring in every day.
Two weeks ago, our publications reported data showing the change in new infections by age group, comparing June-December 2020 to March and April 2021. That data showed with an extremely strong and clear correlation that new COVID-19 infections have decreased the most among the age groups that have been most highly vaccinated.
For those above age 70, who have been vaccinated at rates upward of 70%, new infections dropped by more than 80%.
For each age group that had lower vaccination rates, the decline in new infections was also lower, showing very clearly that as vaccinations went up, infections went down.
Even though cases have increased 35% in April compared to March, daily deaths have declined 39% to fewer than 10 per day across the state. In every other month prior to April, when cases increased, so did deaths, so this reversal is further proof that the vaccines are doing what they’re supposed to — protecting people from severe illness and death.
Vaccines have been deployed to millions of Americans; no negative impacts have been detected with consistency that would warrant questioning their safety.
Yes, a very small number of people have died after the vaccine, whether it’s directly related or not; a very small number have developed a severe blood clot after a Johnson & Johnson vaccine; and, yes, some people might have allergic reactions or the shots might trigger a previously unknown autoimmune disorder.
No health official has ever said that any vaccine, any medication, any medical procedure comes with 100% guaranteed safety, but serious side effects occur at thousandths of percents odds — far, far, far lower than the known risks of COVID-19.
Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box last week noted that the risk of blood clots from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 7 per 1 million in women 18-49, while the known risk of blood clots among COVID-19 patients is 165,000 per 1 million.
Michigan is being ravaged because of new, more infectious and more severe variants of the disease striking the unprotected population. Hoosiers need to take heed.
The longer people drag their feet to get immunity to the known strains, the more opportunity COVID-19 has to morph into something new and drag this pandemic on.
We urge readers to get vaccinated. Let the vaccine work for you, for your loved ones and for our nation.
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Grace Housholder, Dave Kurtz, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. We welcome readers’ comments.