Don’t Let Vaccine Misinformation Cause You to Get COVID
Will the US Reach COVID Herd Immunity?
Vaccination has been shown to be an effective measure to combat disease. As the World Health Organization (WHO) Bulletin proclaims, “Vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death and inequity worldwide.” Prior to the pandemic, there were vaccines for 17 diseases, many of which have prevented or eliminated critical public health crises, such as chicken pox, measles, mumps, and tetanus.
The latest vaccine is against COVID-19. In the United States, there are currently two COVID vaccines that have been approved by the FDA — the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
However, the success of vaccines to combat the COVID pandemic is dependent on whether enough people take it in order to achieve herd immunity. In a November 2020 report by McKinsey & Company, the end of COVID is not expected until the end of 2021 — “In the United States, while the transition to normal might be accomplished sooner, the epidemiological end point looks most likely to be reached in the second half of 2021.” This estimate is shared by Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) but he cautioned that his estimate is “dependent on significant numbers of Americans being willing to be inoculated with one of several vaccines in various stages of development.” Between 75 to 80 percent of Americans need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity against COVID.
Whether enough people in the US are inoculated against COVID to achieve herd immunity is questionable. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 27% of Americans are hesitant to take a COVID vaccine, “saying they probably or definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine even if it were available for free and deemed safe by scientists.” If this survey holds true, the US may not achieve COVID herd immunity.
This reluctance to be vaccinated is due to a number of reasons:
- The anti-vaxxer movement in the US is strong — in a report published October, 2020 in the Lancet, the researchers found that:
- Social media accounts held by anti-vaxxers have increased their following by 7 to 8 million people since 2019.
- 31 million people follow anti-vaccine groups on Facebook, with 17 million people subscribing to similar accounts on YouTube.
2. Disinformation about COVID and COVID vaccination proliferates on social media and is shared causing a maelstrom of misinformation — some of the most prominent disinformation includes:
- COVID was engineered in China as a bioterrorism weapon.
- Getting COVID is no worse than getting the flu.
- Wealthy elites — and in particular Bill Gates — are using COVID to profit from the vaccine. A variation to this disinformation is that “Gates has a secret plan to use vaccines to implant trackable microchips in people.”
- Increased cases of COVID are due to increased testing.
- COVID vaccines are unsafe and will kill “millions.”
- Hydroxychloroquine or other medicinal cocktails are a cure for COVID, so why get the vaccine.
So, are COVID vaccines killing people?
Online claims of coronavirus vaccines causing deaths are rife on social media — “Fifteen deaths after coronavirus vaccination,” “Deaths at care home after coronavirus vaccine,” “Volunteer in vaccine trial dies after COVID-19 vaccine” — but are they true?
The CDC has NOT found any cases in which a vaccine caused a person’s death. However, instances of anaphylaxis after COVID-19 vaccination have occured and clinicians administering COVID vaccines are taking the appropriate steps to ensure patient safety following vaccination, which are “having the necessary supplies available to manage anaphylaxis, implementing the recommended postvaccination observation periods, and immediately treating suspected cases of anaphylaxis with intramuscular injection of epinephrine.”
In looking at COVID vaccine safety, John Brownstein, PhD (Chief Innovation Officer; Professor, Harvard Medical School concludes, “These vaccines have had incredible safety profiles in the trials and post-authorization. So far, there has been nothing to confirm these awful events.”
In Germany, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, who is in charge of vaccination in Germany, looked at 113 deaths following COVID vaccination, and found that “all of them except one man had incomplete vaccination protection, since the COVID-19 disease occurred after the first vaccination. Protection begins seven to 14 days after the second vaccination (depending on the vaccine) so it is possible to become ill and die from COVID-19 after receiving only the first dose. 33 Individuals with multiple pre-existing conditions are either suffering from the worsening of their underlying disease or from another disease independent of vaccination. Ten individuals died from another infectious disease, not COVID-19.”
Getting COVID-19 Has Long-Term Health Consequences
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD (Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter) says that there may be long term effects of COVID-19 that may impact your health long after “recovery”:
When people first started getting sick with COVID, doctors thought that it affected primarily the lungs. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that it also could affect the heart, kidneys, brain, and other organs.
There also are people who survived COVID and have no evidence of injury to the heart, kidneys, or brain — but who nevertheless have not returned to full health. They still have fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, inability to exercise, headache, and trouble sleeping. Some studies find that more than 50% of people who “recovered” from COVID remain hobbled by these symptoms three months later. They can’t return to work. They can’t fulfill their responsibilities at home. They are being called “long haulers.”
In looking at patients recovering from COVID-19, the Mayo Clinic concluded:
Most people who have coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) recover completely within a few weeks. But some people — even those who had mild versions of the disease — continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery.
These people sometimes describe themselves as “long haulers” and the condition has been called post-COVID-19 syndrome or “long COVID-19.”
Older people and people with many serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms, but even young, otherwise healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months after infection.
So, don’t be a COVID long-hauler. Continue to protect yourself and others by wearing a mask and physical distancing — and get the COVID vaccine when you can. Don’t let the sowers of disinformation give you or your loved one COVID.