When the Covid vaccines first came out, I thought everyone should get at least one shot. My belief was based on evidence that vaccines significantly reduced the risk of poor outcomes (hospitalization/death), and what was thought at the time was the ability of vaccines to prevent infection and transmission.
In high-risk groups, like older people with underlying conditions, I thought the vaccine was important because it reduced their relatively high risk of dying from the virus. For young, healthy people I thought it was important to reduce the risk of infection and transmission to protect more vulnerable populations.
That was in late 2020 and early 2021. We now know a lot about vaccines and acquired immunity. Most importantly, we know that while vaccines produce good results but reduce protection against bad outcomes, they do not prevent a person from getting a covid infection or transmitting the virus to another person. We also know that having COVID gives you at least as much protection from bad outcomes as the vaccine does.
This is important information that should be included in how we view vaccines and how we view each other.
Unfortunately, when I talk to my friends who have been in the so-called “liberal” bubble for the past two years, they are shocked to hear that an illiterate person risks as much, or as little, to others. That we – triple vaxxed! – Doing. They simply realize that someone who does not vaccinate is dangerous in any way for them or for the society.
I understand where their fear and misunderstanding come from. First, of course, is the ocean of frenzy and misinformation that they’ve been swimming through for the past two years. The second is the original (and in some places ongoing) vaccine campaign that emphasizes the importance of protecting not only ourselves but others. Third is the experience we have with other vaccines that have been able to eradicate or at least very radically reduce serious diseases like polio.
Looking at so much stuff, I’m finding it very difficult to change people’s minds. Still I stand.
In addition to scientific data and a simple search for truth, I believe it’s important to dissuade my friends and neighbors from the unfounded prejudices they hold against “uneducated” because it is turning into a label that’s not a good thing. It is used to marginalize an entire group of people unnecessarily and unjustly. , Like “untouchable” or “unspecified” these types of labels carry a derogatory perception about the members of the group, which, in turn, justifies negative treatment of them.
In my world of the liberal coastal elite, the negative treatment of “unvaccinated” mostly manifests itself in unjust exclusion from places I used to see as most inclusive, enlightening, and welcoming: performing arts venues, community arts organizations, Colleges and Universities.
In my campaign to stop this negative behaviour, I hereby urge the leaders of such organizations and anyone else speaking on such matters to stop making fear-based decisions and labels full of judgments to justify such decisions. Avoid using
Vaccine mandates have no public health benefit, which is why they are not recommended by any global, national or local public health bodies (WHO, CDC, state and local health commissions, etc.).
Therefore, any institution that still has such mandates is going against the recommendations of public health experts to unjustly discriminate against a very large group of people. Another important point is that, in the US, “unvaccinated” includes a disproportionate number of people of color and young people (see CDC data), meaning that there is a bias against this group against traditionally marginalized populations. There is overlap with prejudices.
Here’s what I want from my friends, neighbors, arts/education leaders, and anyone interested in truth and justice:
1) Let’s stop using the word “unvaccinated” as a blanket putdown. Many people from many different demographic, scientific, cultural and religious groups have decided not to vaccinate and/or increase COVID-19 for whatever reason. Many of them have already recovered from Covid and have recovered. None of them pose a greater danger to the others than a vaccinated person.
2) Anyone in an institution that still has a vaccine mandate should come out strongly and resolutely against the mandates and explain that they are not only unnecessary, but unjust.
3) We should all educate ourselves about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, vaccines and the ever-evolving state of public health, to ensure that we are not basing policies on outdated guidelines or unsupported assumptions.
Thankfully, we are moving away from the horribly misguided, horribly hurtful covid policies for the last two years. Let us now work together to rid this last remnant of scientifically ignorant, panic-driven group thought.