Opinion: Americans Should Avoid Getting The COVID-19 Vaccine
Amid the currently pressing coronavirus pandemic, a corner has been turned in the form of COVID-19 vaccines.
Companies like Pfizer and Moderna have already begun to release vaccine doses to the public after receiving emergency approval from the FDA. Although a vaccine with the purpose of defeating this virus could be a good thing moving forward, the public has the right to be reluctant and seek information out before taking it.
Some who are highly at-risk for COVID-19 have no other choice than take the vaccine. Others who are not at high risk, however, are somewhat concerned about the vaccine becoming more dangerous than the virus itself. Roughly 4,230,000 people in-between ages 18-29 in the United States have had coronavirus, but only 1,500 of these cases died. The mortality rate for that age group is 00.00035%.
Some leading voices started a movement to oppose the shot, and they are generally not online conspiracy theorists or political extremists. Ironically, large numbers of healthcare workers, among those first designated access to receive the vaccine, are refusing to take the vaccine. Twenty-nine percent of health care workers “probably or definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine” according to Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on national health issues. This prominent reluctance by those on the front lines and with experience in health care services should set off some semblance of an alarm for the general public, as 27% of people not take the vaccine. If our health care workers are not unified on the use of the coronavirus vaccine, why should the general public buy the idea that the vaccine is completely safe?
The potential side effects and rushed process for the vaccine create two major concerns for those already in opposition . These vaccines were approved for emergency use by the FDA, receiving fast-track approval, but have not gained formal approval. The fast-track approval means a lack of long-term studies on the effects caused from the new drug, and the side effects of this vaccine are still unknown.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is a legal wing within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides alternative legal protection for vaccine companies. If a shot creates a problem serious enough to cause damage to health of a user, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for financial compensation for damages. These companies do not have to worry about long term effects because of the emergency approval, neglecting to consider long-term safety.
Financial damages, however, do not compare to the damages on individual freedom if mandatory vaccinations were put in place. Under precedent of a Supreme Court ruling in Jacobson v. Massachusetts of 1905, states have “police power” to enforce a variety of reasonable public health precautions, which includes mandatory vaccines. Although mandatory vaccines in the past have been successful in eradicating diseases, long-term research shows effects of various vaccines we overlooked for the sake of temporary relief. State governments should not force the public to take a vaccine so early in the development process. Although states do technically have the authority to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, enforcing a vaccine that a relatively large percentage of people who are skeptical of would be a step beyond what is reasonable.
Employers are forced with a similar question of whether to mandate the vaccine. Up to this point in the pandemic, many businesses have enforced mask use and other sanitary precautions. They should maintain their rights as private businesses to require certain precautions from workers. A mandatory vaccine, unlike external masks or sanitizing, would be overreaching into their workers’ internal health with a vaccine still in the early stages. Employees should not be fired for refusing to take the vaccine if they comply with other external preventions because the vaccine is a large request for employers to ask.
In conclusion, reluctancy to receive COVID-19 vaccine is valid and understandable, as many health care workers are doing the same. Those that are young and healthy already have a low chance of dying from the virus, and a rushed vaccine with unknown long-term side effects for this demographic can cause more harm than it prevents.
Keaton Browder is an Opinion Writer.