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Covid-19 Vaccines and Why They Are Important

Friday, February 19, 2021

I came across an article in the summary of the New York Times which I receive daily. I can't add a link to the email, so I'll copy the entire article here.

But the doctors are basically saying that they have not clearly explained why these vaccines are so beneficial and will save lives - so I wanted to share the information. Especially since, as someone over 65 and with respiratory disease, I was finally able to receive the vaccines.

Here's the full article:

Vaccine Alarmism
By David Leonhardt - published in the New York Times

Good morning. We look at the costs of vaccine alarmism.

If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter, you’re probably familiar with the idea of vaccine alarmism. It goes something like this:

The coronavirus vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective. Vaccinated people may still be contagious. And the virus variants may make everything worse. So don’t change your behavior even if you get a shot.

Much of this message has some basis in truth, but it is fundamentally misleading. The evidence so far suggests that a full dose of the vaccine — with the appropriate waiting period after the second shot — effectively eliminates the risk of Covid-19 death, nearly eliminates the risk of hospitalization and drastically reduces a person’s ability to infect somebody else. All of that is also true about the virus’s new variants.

Yet the alarmism continues. And now we are seeing its real-world costs: Many people don’t want to get the vaccine partly because it sounds so ineffectual.

About one-third of members of the U.S. military have declined vaccine shots. When shots first became available to Ohio nursing-home workers, about 60 percent said no. Some N.B.A. stars are wary of appearing in public-services ads encouraging vaccination.

Nationwide, nearly half of Americans would refuse a shot if offered one immediately, polls suggest. Vaccination skepticism is even higher among Black and Hispanic people, white people without a college degree, registered Republicans and lower-income households.

Kate Grabowski, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins, told me that she has heard from relatives about their friends and co-workers choosing not to get a shot because they keep hearing they can still get Covid and pass it on to others — and will still need to wear masks and social distance. “What’s the point?” she said, describing their attitude.

The message from experts, Grabowski said, is “being misinterpreted. That’s on us. We’re clearly doing something wrong.”

“Our discussion about vaccines has been poor, really poor,” Dr. Muge Cevik, a virologist, told me. “As scientists we need to be more careful what we say and how that could be understood by the public.”

The cost of confusion

Many academic experts — and, yes, journalists too — are instinctively skeptical and cautious. This instinct has caused the public messaging about vaccines to emphasize uncertainty and potential future bad news.

To take one example: The initial research trials of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines did not study whether a vaccinated person could get infected and infect another person. But the accumulated scientific evidence suggests the chances are very small that a vaccinated person could infect someone else with a severe case of Covid. (A mild case is effectively the common cold.) You wouldn’t know that from much of the public discussion.

“Over and over again, I see statements that in theory one could be infected and spread the virus even after being fully vaccinated,” Dr. Rebecca Wurtz of the University of Minnesota told me. “Is the ambiguous messaging contributing to ambivalent feelings about vaccination? Yes, no question.”

The messaging, as Dr. Abraar Karan of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said, has a “somewhat paternalistic” quality. It’s as if many experts do not trust people to understand both that the vaccines make an enormous difference and that there are unanswered questions.

As a result, the public messages err on the side of alarmism: The vaccine is not a get-out-of-Covid-free card!

In their own lives, medical experts — and, again, journalists — tend to be cleareyed about the vaccines. Many are getting shots as soon as they’re offered one. They are urging their family and friends to do the same. But when they speak to a national audience, they deliver a message that comes off very differently. It is dominated by talk of risks, uncertainties, caveats and possible problems. It feeds pre-existing anti-vaccine misinformation and anxiety.

No wonder that the experts’ own communities (which are disproportionately white, upper-income and liberal) are less skeptical of the vaccines than Black, Latino, working class and conservative communities.

Over the next several weeks, the supply of available vaccines will surge. If large numbers of Americans say no to a shot, however, many will suffer needlessly. “It makes me sad,” Grabowski told me. “We’ve created this amazing technology, and we can save so many lives.”

What should the public messaging about the vaccines be? “They’re safe. They’re highly effective against serious disease. And the emerging evidence about infectiousness looks really good,” Grabowski said. “If you have access to a vaccine and you’re eligible, you should get it.”

Virus developments:

- The number of confirmed Covid deaths in the U.S. is on pace to exceed 500,000 in the next few days.

- Officials in some states have expanded the supply of available vaccine doses by redistributing unused shots from nursing homes and hospitals.

- The U.S. will help finance a global push to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • MORTICIAADDAMS
    Thanks for posting this as we don't have T.V or know what is going on.
    30 days ago
  • WATERMELLEN
    Not sure how I missed this blog but it's such an important message . . . thank you!! Here's hoping that the overwhelming majority of those who are offered vaccines do take them. I will, as soon as it's my turn. It's our best chance individually and as a community to deal with this pandemic.
    51 days ago
  • 1CRAZYDOG
    Thank goodness for this clearly written article. I INTEND to get my vaccine, and am eligible, but now to find an appointment!

    I have seen so much suffering w/this virus, it is just not understandable to me that EVERYONE would not do what it takes to be protected and not pass it on.

    AS with any medication or vaccine, there are side effects. This does not mean it will happen to YOU, but it does mean that vaccinators and YOU need to be prepared w/the knowledge of what to look for so reactions can be handled.

    Thank you.
    58 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    emoticon
    59 days ago
  • GOANNA2
    Thank you Phebes. A friend of mine posted a message on FB
    telling all her friends all those negative things and 'knowing all this,
    why would you get vaccinated?' This is the kind of misinformation
    that seems to get spread and gullible people believe it.

    I told her I'm in line to get mine as my own GP will be one of the first
    to be vaccinating here when the roll out begins next week.

    I wish all these fake and misleading news outlets would just go jump
    in a lake and leave the truth to out.

    61 days ago
  • ROCKYCPA
    Thanks for sharing!
    61 days ago
  • MARITIMER3
    Thank you.
    61 days ago
  • PEGGY-BEE
    emoticon I had to read this blog aloud to my DH. We have friends and relatives who are refusing to get them. Our county has only vaccinated 1%, so our daughter kept checking the state sites, found us appointments and we drove 100 miles for our 1st shot and are scheduled for the 2nd. Your blog will be shared with many that know us! emoticon emoticon
    62 days ago
  • JEANKNEE
    I'm following on after reading BROOKLYN_BORN's response:

    Yes! We DO have a long standing problem with "innumeracy" in this country.

    The consultation with the allergist was marvelous!! He realized he was talking to someone with a physics background. So, he and I did talk risk/benefit analysis in terms of numbers while also taking the particulars of the environment in which I live along with the health particulars associated with me as an individual. Very good conversation. What I found particularly interesting was his recommendation would have been different if I lived in a different part of the state which only served to lend credence to the concerns I've had as I continue to watch this pandemic unfold.
    62 days ago
  • JEANKNEE
    Thank you, PHEBESS!

    I was referred to an allergist for consultation regarding COVID vaccination. I was diagnosed with a longterm chronic condition that's not well understood a couple of years ago and I have an anaphylaxis history as well.

    His bottom line: It's more difficult for us to treat you for a COVID infection than it is for us to treat an anaphylaxis reaction to the vaccine.

    It will be months before I am eligible for vaccination. In the meantime I've been advised not to leave the house. He really, really would prefer that I not accompany DH to the grocery store.
    62 days ago
  • BROOKLYN_BORN
    I JUST read the same article and have been discussing it with Joe.

    Along with the the covid deniers, mask resisters and precaution ridiculers, and those opposed to any kind of vaccine, we now must deal with those who do not understand relative risk.
    We have a long standing problem with "innumeracy" in this country.

    Nearly 1/2 million dead and our life expectancy has even dropped by 1 year based on the overall increased number who have died this year.

    Unless those attitudes change, we will never get out of this.


    62 days ago
  • TRAVELGAL417
    TY TY TY TY TY for this blog. I have my first shot and I believe in science. Our former President sent a message to millions that these are unsafe. I believe and everyone else should. But it is more than that, we had 4 years of propaganda of fake news. Humans who do not want to watch any other network besides FOX or Newsmax are missing out.
    People are feeding off them for money, not for their better Angels.
    62 days ago
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