When the vaccine first came out, I wasn’t too eager to get it. I’m young and healthy. Statistics indicated that I was unlikely to get COVID and extremely unlikely to get a serious case of it. I wasn’t “opposed” to the vaccine—as though it were some political candidate with ideas I disliked—I just didn’t see a personal need for it. But I was willing to be convinced. And what happened next surprised me.
I’d expected the “pro-vaxxers” would try to show me that getting the vaccine was the best thing for my health. Instead, what I heard was: “It’s probably safe, but get it anyway! Society’s health is more important than your health! If you don’t get this shot, you want everyone to die!”
I’ve heard logical arguments before, and this isn’t one. I’ve also heard Marxist arguments before: Subordinate your will to the good of society, as directed by “the experts.”
The experts, in this case, are doctors, who recently have been promoted to godlike status. It is unfortunate then, that I couldn’t find a single pro-vax doctor willing to admit that we can not know what the long-term effects of a new drug will be until we’ve had a chance to observe the effects over a long term. This concept is so simple it’s tautological: We need a long time before we know what will happen over a long time.
But all I heard from doctors when I mentioned this was, “It’s safe.” When asked, “How do you know?” All I got was, “Because the FDA says so.” If pressed, they’d bring out the old “good of society” argument.
When I last wrote about the vaccine, I suggested that the equally high or higher viral loads among the vaccinated might cast doubt on the vaccine’s efficacy. A commenter pointed out that I was wrong: The vaccine is not supposed to reduce the viral load; it works by suppressing symptoms of disease in the recipient. It turns out this commenter was correct. And that is a hugely important piece of information:
The vaccine does not make COVID less transmissible. It simply makes you feel less bad when you’ve caught it. The only benefit this brings to society is making it less likely that our hospitals will be overwhelmed by COVID patients. And that hasn’t been a serious possibility for a year and a half.
As long as we don’t have to worry about maxing out our hospitals, getting the vaccine when you’re in a low-risk group is actually bad for society. You may still catch COVID, and you’ll be just as contagious as the unvaccinated. But because you don’t have symptoms, instead of staying at home and resting, you’ll go to work, you’ll hang out with friends, and you’ll spread the disease.
That the doctor I last discussed the vaccine with didn’t know this, or wouldn’t admit it, raises serious questions. First, is it possible that having a medical degree does not signify pope-like infallibility? Second, is it possible that doctors who have already recommended the vaccine, or more especially, have taken it themselves and administered it to their families, have a vested interest in wanting to believe the vaccine is safe?
Third, and most importantly: What are all these doctors going to do if it turns out in 20 years that they were wrong?
I know exactly what they’re going to do: They’ll scurry away from the responsibility like a pack of little rats. They’ll say, “Pfizer lied to us! They hid the data!” Never mind that despite attempts to bury data unfavorable to the vaccine there is plenty of it out there for inquiring minds.
The doctors will say, “We’re sorry you’ve got to take blood thinners for the rest of your life, but it’s not our fault!” And the government will say the same thing. Pfizer, et al., will point out that the government pressured them to skew their results to appear safe. There will be a huge public backlash—so huge that it may ultimately wreck Pfizer, despite the total indemnification granted to them by the government. But what about all those who took the vaccine in good faith? Or all the others who took it because their employers forced them to?
The damage will be done, and there will be no undoing it.
When the vaccine first came out, I was uncertain, but willing to be persuaded. Now I am persuaded: With each passing day, I’m increasingly relieved that I didn’t get the vaccine. This has caused other complications, of a societally imposed nature, especially while I’ve been in New York. I can’t go to museums, I had to cancel my membership to the gym, I can’t eat indoors in any restaurant in the city. I am experiencing life as a second-class citizen. (As Mayor de Blasio said, “if you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated.”)
But because I believe that getting vaccinated would be bad for myself and bad for society, I have chosen ostracization instead. It’s lucky they made me watch all those films about peer pressure in high school. Because I have never in my adult life—or even in high school—experienced peer pressure like this. No one is trying to persuade me that the vaccine is good for me. Only that I just need to take it or else. But I know how to handle myself when someone tries to force drugs on me: I just say no.