By Bart Anderson
I hope that this article can answer some questions for those of you who have yet to get vaccinated against COVID-19. This is the third article I’ve written on this subject. First, let’s look at reasons you may not want the vaccine:
- “I don’t want the vaccine if it’s being forced on me.” A good point. I don’t believe in mandatory vaccinations either. Like I’ve said before, this is America. Freedom of choice is one of our most important rights. If you choose not to get the vaccine, you have to accept the consequences. I recently got to go to Hawaii with my son and his family. If I showed my vaccination card, I was able to go. If you hadn’t been vaccinated, you had to get tested. If you were positive, then no, the state of Hawaii wouldn’t let you in. Yeah, it was a pain in the butt, but so is getting your driver’s license, voting, etc. Accepting the consequences of your actions is also one of America’s basic tenets.
- People from all over the political spectrum are pushing the vaccine. Whether you voted for President Trump or President Biden, both are encouraging people to get vaccinated. President Trump recently said: “I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that voted for me. Frankly, it’s a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine, and it is something that works…it works incredibly well, 95 percent or even more than that. It is really saving our country, and it is saving, frankly, the world.” https://www.foxnews.com/media/trump-urges-all-americans-to-get-covid-vaccine-its-a-safe-vaccine. President Biden’s advice is the same.
- “I don’t want the vaccine because I’m worried about side effects.” Okay, let’s break this down. Your risk of dying, having to go into the hospital, not being able to breathe, being placed on a ventilator, and then finally succumbing to the inflammatory effects of COVID, are 1 in 150. Better if you’re younger, worse if you’re older. That’s if you HAVE it. That’s if you’re UNvaccinated. Here in our county, we’ve had over 400 confirmed cases, and three official deaths. Better than the national average. BUT if you have COVID, the odds of having long-lasting side effects are about 1 in 10. If you are hospitalized, the chances of long-term side effects are 65 percent: more than half. The risk of serious adverse effects from getting the vaccine are one in a million. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) investigates all reports of adverse events from vaccinations. You’ll read where there are thousands of deaths following the vaccine, but that’s anyone who died after getting the vaccine, from anything, including motor vehicle accidents. The VAERS system looks at each one.
- “I have had a reaction to a previous vaccination and am afraid to get this one.” Understandable. If you’ve had an anaphylactic reaction to a previous vaccine — that’s where your airway closes off and you’ve had to come to the hospital for emergency treatment — then no, you shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine for that matter. If you’ve had other mild reactions to vaccines, like a rash or a sore arm, or felt ill afterwards, then it’s safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine. I’d recommend you wait in the hospital or clinic for 30 minutes afterward to make sure you’re all right, but the COVID-19 vaccines are very, very, (did I say very?), very safe! I’ve gotten it. My family has gotten it. I’ve encouraged my friends (even those I don’t like) to get it, and I encourage EVERYONE to get it.
- “Why do I need two shots of the vaccine? If it works, why not just one?” The second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines induces virus-specific neutralizing antibodies at a level tenfold higher than the first dose, and also elicit the creation of virus-specific cytotoxic T cells and T helper cells, which confer much-longer lasting immunity to COVID-19 and its variants at a cellular level. Right now, immunity from the current vaccines seems to cover all the variants.
- “If the vaccine works, then why are people still getting COVID if they’ve gotten the vaccine?” Nothing is 100 percent. If you want to pick and choose news articles to believe and just pay attention to facts that back your biases, then you can believe that. I got COVID-19 after my vaccine. In fact, I was the first case in Nevada of someone who had tested positive for COVID and been fully vaccinated. But guess what? I didn’t have a single symptom. That’s what the vaccine does. If you’re vaccinated, then you either don’t get any symptoms, or they are usually very mild. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are about 95 percent effective. That still means 1 in 20 people vaccinated can contract COVID. But they rarely get sick, and almost never die.
The big point here is, with the Delta variant, where ONE person can spread it to over SIX others, you’re either going to get vaccinated, or get COVID-19. People tell me, “It’s not a big deal. I’m healthy. If I get COVID, I’ll get better.” The odds are in your favor. But you still have a 1 in 10 chance of having long- lasting side effects, worse if you’re bad enough to get hospitalized. Plus, people who are vaccinated are much, much (did I say much?) much less likely to get sick. Our latest numbers from St. George Regional state 98.5 percent of deaths in Utah since January 16, 2021, have been unvaccinated people, and 89.7 percent of all hospitalizations are unvaccinated.
This puts a LOT of pressure on us as medical providers. Hospitals, which are always running close to full already, are overflowing. St. George Regional is putting up an outdoor facility to handle patients coming in with COVID symptoms. I tried to transfer a patient to Las Vegas last week and couldn’t get them in anywhere. Every single hospital bed in Las Vegas was full. If this isn’t a big deal to you, then try telling a patient who might lose his leg if he doesn’t have emergency surgery in the next 12 hours that you can’t find a surgeon for him. You freaking try it!
One more thing. At this point I think they should start calling the COVID-19 vaccines the Trump Vaccine. It was his administration that spearheaded its development, that was able to cut through all the red tape and interference and force the pharmaceutical manufacturers to produce it. So yeah, I got the Trump Vaccine the first week it was available. I even got COVID-19 afterward. The vaccine didn’t work, you say? It worked GREAT! I didn’t have any symptoms. Just had to stay home and work on my list of honey-dos. Vaccinated people can still get COVID, but the odds of getting very sick, being hospitalized, or dying from it are extremely low. As your health-care provider, as the guy who shows up on the ambulance at your house, as your friend, I recommend you get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Bart Anderson has been a physician assistant at Grover C. Dils Medical Center for the last 12 years and is a volunteer firefighter and paramedic for Lincoln County. The opinions expressed are the author’s own.