In the video above, Alexander Stockton, a producer on the Opinion Video team, explores two of the main reasons the number of Covid cases is soaring once again in the United States: vaccine hesitancy and refusal.
“It’s hard to watch the pandemic drag on as Americans refuse the vaccine in the name of freedom,” he says. Seeking understanding, Mr. Stockton travels to Mountain Home, Ark., in the Ozarks, a region with galloping contagion and — not unrelated — abysmal vaccination rates. He finds that a range of feelings and beliefs underpins the low rates — including fear, skepticism and a libertarian strain of defiance.
This doubt even extends to the staff at a regional hospital, where about half of the medical personnel are not vaccinated — even while the intensive care unit is crowded with unvaccinated Covid patients fighting for their lives. Mountain Home — like the United States as a whole — is caught in a tug of war between private liberty and public health. But Mr. Stockton suggests that unless government upholds its duty to protect Americans, keeping the common good in mind, this may be a battle with no end.
I am a Doctor Who has studied the miracle of MRNA Covid vaccine, and who knows that it cannot get into the nucleus of any of my cells or long remain in my body.
I have studied the transmission and pathogenesis of Covid, and know how it works. The knowledge that it could affect my thinking, memory, my very essence, and the fact that it could last indefinitely after the initial illness has certainly made me a believer.
There is an element of truth in the concerns of anti-vaxers and anti-maskers. Unfortunately the problem is not black and white. No vaccine is 100% safe, although the mRNA vaccines come close. There is some worry about clotting problems with a few people, particularly the young. This risk is measured in terms of problems per million people getting the vaccine, and is vanishingly small compared to the alternative of exposing yourself to the ravages of Covid.
An intelligent friend of mine who is a nurse has auto immune disease, and vaccines tend to hit her hard. Unfortunately the fact that she is a nurse and is exposed a lot to the public make her more likely to get Covid, and her auto immunity would render her much more likely to have complications, should she get it. She has received her first injection of Covid vaccine, and had a lot of fatigue, headaches and symptoms that were relatively self-limited.
Masks are mainly useful in protecting other people from the mask-wearer and only slightly helpful in protecting the mask wearer from other people. Also, I have read a long article about some subtle disadvantages of forcing children to wear masks although I think it’s still a good idea, particularly when Covid is common in the community.
The main problem is that Americans have freedom of choice without the knowledge to weigh the benefits and hazards of receiving the vaccine, versus the hazards of getting the disease.
There are times when we should unload the making of such statistical decisions on people who know more about the vagaries of disease.
In my opinion, the states which allow hospitals to require their healthcare workers to receive vaccination, and allow schools to require their students and teachers to receive vaccination are in the right. Currently, there are less problems in those states.
Covid is certainly a nasty disease, and even doubly vaccinated people can be spreaders. As an elderly vaccinated person, I still treat everybody as if they are infected, and require masks when visitors come. When inside, I sit by an open door, with a fan behind me blowing air in the other direction.
At the age of 89, I cannot afford to get Covid-19.