By Alan Resnick
It’s been a few weeks now, and I’m still twitching from a story I saw on Morning Joe. The segment focused on an unvaccinated 16-year-old girl who was being discharged from the hospital after three days on oxygen due to Covid-19 pneumonia. Fortunately, her condition was improving.
The camera cut away to the girl’s mother, who was wearing a mask and crying. Between sobs she said: “I can’t believe that she got so sick so fast.” The camera then panned over to the girl’s father, who was asked by the reporter if he were now going to get vaccinated: “I might.” This was the end of the clip.
WTF? You might? What exactly is it going to take to convince this dad to roll up his sleeve? The segment ended at this point, so we never heard what more evidence the father would need to bump him up to even “probably.”
I have to assume that the rest of the clip was edited out, although it’s certainly possible that the reporter simply fainted dead away after hearing the guy’s response. So, let me jump in as interviewer and ask him the follow up question: “Why, after seeing your daughter on oxygen for three days, do you remain on the fence about being vaccinated?” And let me speculate on what I might hear in response from the father, and share what I would be thinking.
“She didn’t get that sick and is getting better"
Huh? Would your daughter have had to be intubated for you to be convinced? Most parents would be terrified if their child were in the hospital and on oxygen, but I suppose everyone’s different. And you are correct that relatively few adolescents have become ill enough with Covid to be hospitalized. But of those who did, 33 percent were admitted to intensive care units, and 5 percent of those required ventilators, according to a CDC report published on June 4. And this was two months ago, before the Delta variant began to skyrocket. Perhaps your daughter just got lucky.
“It’s no worse than the flu”
Yeah, it is. The same report found that the number of hospitalizations related to Covid among adolescents was about three times as high as hospitalizations linked to influenza over three recent flu seasons.
“I’m worried about the side effects”
I feel that this is one area in which the CDC has done an absolutely miserable job of communicating with the public. The most common side effects, like swelling or pain at the injection site, fever, muscle pain, chills, or nausea, are actually signs that your immune system is working, and they typically last for a day or two. Many people (like me) experience no side effects. While it is certainly possible, it’s extremely unlikely that a person will experience two of the most serious reactions that have been reported thus far after vaccination. One, an allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, occurs quickly after injection, which is why people are asked to sit for 15–30 minutes before leaving. And vaccination sites have medication on hand to immediately treat the condition. The other involves blood clotting, but is most common among women, so you’re good there.
“I’m waiting for the vaccines to be fully approved by the FDA”
Although this reason suggests that you want to follow the science, I call “bullshit.” And I would have said this even before the Pfizer vaccine received final approval on August 23. It is certainly true that the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines also were granted emergency authorization by the FDA, and their final approval is still pending. But as the Delta variant has turned the infection map blazing red across the country, over 95 percent of the hospitalizations for Covid are people who have not been vaccinated. Coincidence? I think not. Moreover, now that over 51 percent of our population has been fully vaccinated, what are the chances that the FDA is going to issue a report saying: “Oopsie. Our bad”?
“I don’t trust the government”
I’m going go out on a limb and guess that you were anxiously awaiting Donald Trump’s reinstatement this month. Has Dr. Fauci changed his position on masks or has the CDC amended and revised its thinking about Covid since the start of the pandemic last year? Absolutely. But that’s what’s known as science. They didn’t lie to you; they simply learned more and adjusted their recommendations accordingly. And don’t forget that these vaccines were developed while President Trump was in office, so they must be good.
“I don’t like vaccines”
Do you know anyone who has polio? How about smallpox? I wonder why not?
“My doctor hasn’t recommended it”
If that means that you have spoken with your doctor and they have advised you against getting vaccinated, then I humbly apologize and have no further questions. But if that means that you are waiting to talk to your physician at your next appointment, let me offer a small suggestion – give them a call and see what they have to say. If you become infected, you may not make it to your next appointment.
“It’s my business if I get vaccinated, not yours”
I respectfully disagree, you selfish fool. While highly effective, the vaccines are not perfect, so you could spread the virus to loved ones even if they have been jabbed. Also, there are a number of people who would love to take the vaccine but cannot, such as people on chemotherapy. They depend on the people around them to keep them from getting infected. Finally, by not rolling up your sleeve, you are part of the group that allows the virus to continue to replicate and mutate.
“Why bother? Even vaccinated people get infected”
You are correct, sir, there are breakthrough cases. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina recently announced on August 2 he had tested positive although he had been recently vaccinated. And here’s what he had to say about it: “I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now. My symptoms would be far worse.” And on August 19, three other US senators -- Angus King of Maine, Roger Wicker of Mississippi and John Hickenlooper of Colorado -- announced separately they had tested positive for Covid. Both King, an Independent, and Hickenlooper, a Democrat, echoed sentiments similar to Graham's. It is true that breakthrough cases are increasing, but Covid still remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated. An August 10 New York Times reports that data from 40 states and Washington D.C. indicates that: "Fully vaccinated people have made up as few as 0.1 percent of and as many as 5 percent of those hospitalized with the virus in those states, and as few as 0.2 percent and as many as 6 percent of those who have died."
“I’ve read that the vaccine contains a microchip”
I’ve got nothing for this one. But even if it were true, look on the bright side. When you go out drinking with the boys and get so plastered that you lose your phone and wallet, the police can identify you and take you home, just as if you were a lost schnauzer.
––I think I’m going to lay down now and wait for the twitching to stop.
Alan Resnick is an industrial psychologist with over 40 years of professional experience. He and his wife are sheltering at home in Farmington Hills, Michigan. He is passing the time by cooking, exercising, catching up on friends’ recommendations of must-see TV and writing.