During past weeks, CHICK-NEWS has emphasized the need for as many people as possible to be immunized as vaccines become available. It is encouraging that successive population surveys denote a decline in the level of vaccine hesitancy. Unfortunately a solid core of vaccine rejectors will impede progress to acceptable levels of herd immunity estimated to be in excess of 80 percent of the population.
The following reasons for vaccine hesitancy have been assembled from recent news reports and evaluations. Appropriate responses are provided that may be used by management to encourage acceptance of vaccination, benefiting the entire workforce in a plant, their families and the community.
- COVID is an insignificant infection!
COVID is an extremely serious disease. Since January 2020 there have been 30.8 million diagnosed cases in the U.S. with possibly four times that number actually infected. Fatalities are now in excess of 556,000 of our fellow citizens as a result of COVID-19. On April 6th, there were 42,000 people in hospital, 60,000 new cases were diagnosed and 900 died. It is now evident that long-term effects of COVID may occur affecting brain function, endurance and an ability to enjoy life.
- Young people are unaffected!
In the early stages of COVID, fatality rates in the elderly were far higher than in the 25 to 40 age group. This was due to predisposing conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and long-term effects of smoking. More recently, there has been an elevated incidence among people in the age group of 20 to 40. Younger patients now requiring require hospitalization. This is especially the case in Brazil and is attributed to the emergence of variant strains of SARS-CoV-2 that have since appeared in the U.S.
- The Covid pandemic is over!
Although there has been a decline in the number of incident cases of COVID in the U.S., the level currently is equivalent to the summer surge of 2020. Cases are increasing in many states in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions and specifically in urban areas in the mid-West. The situation is complicated by emergence of variants that are more infectious and potentially more pathogenic. And there is the rest of the World .We are not in a bubble.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines that are administered under emergency use authority (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration and CDC were subjected to extensive field evaluation to demonstrate both efficacy and safety.
Generally side effects from any vaccine appear within two to three months of initiating a program of immunization. Since early January 2021, 165 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been administered with almost no reports of adverse side effects. The few cases that have been investigated relate to patients with previous history of allergic reactions to vaccines. For other than a fractional proportion of the population, US citizens over the age of 16 can receive either of the two mRNA COVID vaccines with confidence. The J&J adenovirus vectored vaccine is under temporary suspension based on eight cases of blood clotting abnormalities among eight million receiving the single-dose vaccine. The fact that health authorities are alert to any clinical abnormality or adverse occurrence and are willing to take positive action to suspend distribution pending a scientific evaluation proves the high level of surveillance in effect and the integrity of the safety protocols for vaccines.
- The vaccine was developed too quickly!
The basic science leading to the development of mRNA and adenovirus-vectored COVID vaccines has extended back over two decades. The effective COVID vaccines were developed rapidly applying existing technology. Investment in development and manufacture of vaccines requiring vast sums of money was a goal of the previous administration. Essentially cooperation between the federal government, pharmaceutical companies and academia resulted in an unprecedented program of development and testing. Unfortunately, the term "warp speed" was applied to the program, but although the goal of attaining a tested vaccine was achieved by the end of 2020 there was no compromise in safety or quality.
- I could catch COVID from the vaccine!
The three approved COVID vaccines do not contain either a live or dead virus. Only a fragment of the spike protein that is capable of stimulating antibodies is present in the product.
- The vaccine is manufactured using tissue from aborted fetuses!
This is a misrepresentation. Research conducted as many as fifteen years ago used fetal cells, but vaccines are devoid of any inclusion of either animal or human components. The Catholic Church has approved COVID vaccines and has established a moral principle for people to become protected and to prevent spread within the community.
- I don’t want to get side effects!
Reactions to vaccines include mild transient pain at the site of injection no worse than any influenza vaccine. A small proportion of recipients have experienced fatigue or flu-like symptoms of 1 to 2 days duration following the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
It is hoped that this FAQ format will provide answers to satisfy the vaccine hesitant in the workforce of a plant when offered vaccination. It is important to emphasize that a vaccination is a voluntary decision but becoming immunized not only protects the recipient, but limits spread within the workforce and the community. The faster we achieve high levels of immunity in our population the safer we will be from emerging COVID variants and will be able to resume our pre-2020 lifestyles.