You are either Working for the Virus or Working for Your Fellow Man
Explanations why people don’t get vaccinated have as much to do with the bias of the reporter as the data available. For instance, Black and Hispanic minority groups were labeled “hesitant.” The plain truth is they have poor access to medical services. CVS and Walgreens don’t locate in their neighborhoods. Initially, no vaccine centers were set up at local churches or supermarket parking lots.Were Black and Hispanic minority groups 'hesitant' or did they have poor access to medical services? Click To Tweet
Absent medical care, many minorities assumed any febrile illness they had was COVID and they were immunized. RNA vaccines are complex and the media offered no culturally sensitive explanations of vaccination. I have yet to meet one black person who referenced vaccine mistrust due to the Tuskegee experiments.
The data, however, shows rising rates of vaccination in Black and Hispanic communities. The initial lower rate of acceptance of a “free” vaccine was due to the cost of getting to a vaccination facility. The objections were: no gas for the car, no bus, no money for parking, no childcare, and no clinics at their churches or social halls. The largest Massachusetts vaccination facility was Gillette Stadium, which is miles from where most minorities live.
In December of 2020, early in the pandemic, a major study from the Kaiser Family Foundation categorized three major reasons for refusal to vaccinate — “Wait and See,” “Only if Required,” or “Definitely Not.” Altogether this comprised 63% of all Americans.
By July of 2021, the “Wait and See” group had seen 100 million vaccinations being given without major complications. They showed up in droves. The “Only if Required” group decided that they, too, wanted to get on airplanes, dine out, or see a Bruins game.
The “Definitely Not” group have remained steadfast at 14%. They were younger, mostly male, largely Republican, and more rural than urban.The unvaccinated now occupy 85% of ICU beds with COVID illnesses. Click To Tweet
Most of the “Definitely Not” don’t believe there is a COVID virus. They believe the new vaccines are more dangerous than any virus. Many also believe that refusing the virus makes a political statement, or registers a protest against the government shutting down the schools or the economy. They get their information from the internet, especially Facebook, which itself has the qualities of an infectious disease.Refusers get their information from Facebook, which itself has the qualities of an infectious disease. Click To Tweet
However, the “Definitely Not” unvaccinated group now occupies 85% of ICU beds with COVID illnesses. The vaccine isn’t flawless, but it prevents hospitalization and/or death.
Here are the statistics from the very red State of Texas from the month of September, 2021:
1.6 million Tests: 1.3 million Unvaccinated Positives
28,659 people died: 24,503 unvaccinated: 51% less than 65 years old
The best estimate for the country is that 300,000 unvaccinated adult Americans will lose their lives in 2022. The belief that most deaths will be among the very old is no longer true. Today, 95% of Americans over 65 have had at least one dose of vaccine. Whatever political statement refusing vaccination made originally, all it means now is increased risk of death, and with disproportionate positivity, increased risk of infecting those close to you.
I have been vaccinating people since March. I am encouraged by the number of citizens who are showing up for shot #1 and confess they didn’t believe in it originally. I just commend them for listening to our better angels. And for rolling up their sleeves.
Author: James Edward Katz MD MPH
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Aiden Herring, 316th Medical Squadron immunization technician, prepares a dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington D.C., Dec. 30, 2020. The Department of Defense remains committed to protecting our service members, civilian employees, and families around the globe; safeguarding our national security capabilities; and supporting the whole-of-nation response. When available, the DOD will ensure the vaccine is available for all beneficiaries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stuart Bright)