Vaccine hesitancy in America

older technology = new vaccine

COVID vaccineAlthough my family is fully Pfizerized, I worry about vaccine hesitancy. A lot actually. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter ended up walking her reluctant friend to an injection site. And the friend’s family has no one else who is vaccinated. This in spite of an increasing supply and eligibility for everyone 16 and older.

And I know they are hardly the only ones. 

The situation is made worse by certain elected officials. US Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), for instance. “The science tells us the vaccines are 95% effective. So if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not? What is it to you? You’ve got a vaccine and science is telling you it’s very, very effective. So why is this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine?”


So I contacted one of my friends, who is a health policy wonk, for help. They pointed me to some articles. This one from the AMA advises physicians on how to combat vaccine hesitancy. “Researchers have studied and worked with this type of vaccine for decades, not just the past 10 months.”

A good point, since it traditionally has taken 5-10 years to get a new vaccine. And that appears to be the #1 factor in the hesitancy.

The decade-long work of Dr. Peter Hotez at Baylor, who my friend finds very credible, may be helpful. Read how SARS and MERS vaccine research led to COVID-19 vax.

See also the CEO of Pfizer on Developing a Vaccine in Record Time.

The next piece is more of a scientific paper than for the general population. “On the basis of this knowledge, and information gained from preclinical studies with SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV13, the spike protein was identified as an antigenic target for the development of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 at a very early stage.” This saved the scientists a whole lot of time.

Separately, the Vlogbrothers have used their four-minute video platform to try to persuade. I think the emotional empathy by John Green – “shame doesn’t work” – may be more effective than the rational logic of Hank Green, neither of whom are related to me, but see both.

Also, watch 24 minutes of John Oliver and peruse Doonesbury.

If that weren’t enough

Some folks who are fully vaccinated nevertheless “have been diagnosed with what epidemiologists call ‘breakthrough cases.’ These infections are rare and entirely expected; the three vaccines cleared for emergency use provided robust protection in clinical trials, but they aren’t perfect.” And I fear the 10-day pause in using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will create even more resistance to all of the shots.

The Boston Globe reports that some folks are “getting their hands on blank CDC vaccination confirmation cards and filling them in with false information. “Some have made a cottage industry of it, posting blank cards for sale on eBay.” Reprehensible and dangerous for us all.

“While a large number of Americans are being vaccinated daily nationwide, health officials are recommending we still follow safety measures including social distancing. But despite the recommendations and the known benefits of social distancing in stopping the spread of COVID-19, some individuals refuse to follow precautions and resort to violence when confronted…. a high school hockey coach died after being punched outside of a bar in St. Paul, Minnesota, on April 17 following an argument about social distancing, the Star Tribune reported.”

Here’s the CDC Provisional Mortality Data for the United States, 2020. Complex stuff, so give the agency a break, OK?

Be safe. And stylish, like this young man. And listen to heart surgeon and Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), who says that getting the shot is the “best way to end the government’s restrictions on our freedoms.” Hey, whatever works.