One reader made clear he was getting tired of hearing about the pandemic.
“Maybe if everyone didn’t write about the same thing every day it would be more effective?” he wrote. “Trust me. The constant hounding is NOT getting more of us to vaccinate. It’s annoying and just bullying at this point!”
He’s right that some folks have made up their minds. They won’t budge no matter what a guy like me might say.
They also ignore guys like Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. Jha describes himself on his Twitter page as an advocate for the notion that an ounce of data is worth a thousand pounds of opinion.
He noted in a recent tweet that the world had administered 6 billion doses of COVID vaccines to 3.4 billion people.
“For people waiting for more data before getting the shot,” he wrote, “the data is in. We’ve vaccinated nearly half of all humanity. The vaccines are safe.”
As of Thursday, more than 64% of Americans 12 and over had been fully vaccinated. That’s more than 182 million people.
And yet the skeptics remain.
“You continue to deny the fact that thousands of people have suffered severe reactions to this experimental treatment,” read another message in response to last week’s column. “You also neglected to mention the thousands of vaccinated people who either contracted COVID or died as a result of your half-truths.”
Health experts acknowledge there have been some rare side effects. Take, for example, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.6 million doses of the vaccine had been administered by the end of June. The CDC found 100 confirmed reports of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Ninety-five of those patients ended up in a hospital, 10 were admitted to an intensive care unit and one died.
Thus, for every million doses of vaccine administered, the CDC estimated there would be 14-17 cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Without the vaccine, it said, that same group of patients would see 1,800 admissions to the hospital with COVID-19. It estimated 480 of those patients would wind up in an ICU and 140 would die.
I told my skeptical reader what folks like Jha have been saying for months: The experiment is over.
“Millions of people have taken these shots, and they have been proven safe and effective,” I wrote. “This is not opinion. It’s fact. Severe reactions to the vaccines are extremely rare. Severe illness and death among the unvaccinated are much more common.”
He wasn’t swayed.
“I disagree,” he wrote. “It’s not effective. You can still catch COVID, and pass COVID. And as far as being safe, why are so many young people developing heart problems from it? Not to mention all the other health issues associated to it. If this so-called vaccine is so great, why will people be required to get booster shots every so many months?”
The heart problems he mentioned were the 497 cases of myocarditis reported among 141 million patients receiving a second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Most of those cases involved males ages 18 to 29. There were no deaths.
As for booster shots, those are far from uncommon. Did you ever get a booster shot as a kid? Don’t many of us get a flu shot every year?
It’s true that vaccines don’t always keep you from getting sick, I admitted, but if you do get sick, they tend to make the illness less severe.
“The overwhelming majority of those now in intensive care units are people without a vaccine,” I told him.
He didn’t respond. I’m pretty sure he’s still unconvinced.