Saturday, April 3, 2021

WTF: Vaccine Hesitancy in COVID times

In January 2021, total deaths due to COVID in the US have passed 400000... that's LESS THAN A YEAR after the FIRST confirmed case (January 21st, 2020, in Seattle). Today, April 2021, it's already past 550000. 

Keep in mind that the US death toll is the world's HIGHEST, even worse than China, where it was first discovered and turned the city of Wuhan into an almost ghost city. 

Just to keep the numbers in perspective... 400000 about the same as the TOTAL US MILITARY CASUALTIES IN the entire World War II! (400103 COVID deaths as of Jan 19, 2021, vs 405000 total casualties as quoted from Dept of Veteran Affairs)

The numbers are sobering as the country reached 200000 deaths in September, 300000 deaths in December, and 400000 deaths in January... 

As of this writing (April 3rd, 2021), the total US COVID deaths is at 554000 (thanks, Google, click to get up to date count)

So how can ANYONE who values their life still be vaccine-hesitant? 

And if they don't value their own lives, can they prevent their almost-adult children from getting vaccinated? 

Turns out the answer is quite a bit more complex, with legal, moral, and medical aspects to consider. 

Please note that it is not my attempt to document the anti-vax movement, but rather, show how anti-vaxxers are known to cherry-pick random bits of study results because it's all they see to fit their own frame of mind, instead of looking at things with the proper scientific mindset. 

But let's start with the legal bits. 

Can Antivax Parents Legally Prohibit Their Children from getting COVID vaccine? 

This cannot be answered at the moment because none of the COVID vaccines are approved for children. Pfizer vaccine is approved for age 16 and over. J&J and Moderna vaccines are only approved for 18 and over. 

But legally speaking, vaccines are a medical treatment, and thus, parents of the minor will be notified, and parents do have the right to refuse. 

The school, of course, can require immunization/vaccination before allowing the students back, unless the student has a specific vaccine exemption on medical, and in some states, religious reasons. California, for example, had been tightening the rules and dropped religious exemptions altogether. This made the various anti-vax parents form networks trying to promote the doctors who will certify vaccine exemptions, but the law made the exemptions subject to review, as prior exemption abuse included non-pediatric doctors writing exemptions. 

Some US states recognize the "mature minor doctrine" which basically is where a mature minor knows enough to recognize the risks and rewards and capable of making up his or her own mind about self-health. Generally, they have to be at least 15 years of age and is generally a way for a minor to seek treatment against the will of his or her parents. The court will often have to appoint someone to test the minor and the judge will have to make a final decision. 

This is different from the full "emancipated minor" where the minor is declared legally his/her own person and no longer considered a minor, and can live by him or herself, and/or sign contracts and stuff that a minor normally would not be allowed to do. It is basically a limited version of emancipation.

It gets more complicated as some states have laws on the books that SOME vaccines require parental notification, while some do not.  

In case I lost you completely, yes, anti-vax parents can prevent their children from getting vaccinated. This is complicated as it intersects public health, privacy rights, and parental rights. But there are legal ways around it... both will involve a judge. 

Practically speaking, most mass vaccination sites barely checks your ID. Are they really going to notify your parents if you do want the vaccine? Doubt it. 

What Mental Gymnastics is Antivaxxers Using to Deny COVID and COVID vaccines? 

Nothing really special, as they have always tried to make mountains out of molehills. 

For example: after getting COVID vaccines, some reported arm lymph nodes swelling. Medical professionals say "normal reaction" of the immune system. Anti-vaxxers say: COVID vaccine causes breast cancer. No, not making this up. 

Then there are the "scientists" who can't get a job in the regular sciences, so they decided to court the anti-vax crowd... by feeding them nonsense. Let's take Vanden Boosche as an example. He circulated an "open letter" to advocate governments around the world to STOP MASS VACCINATIONS. His arguments can be roughly summarized as the old anti-vax trope: vaccination is making MORE DANGEROUS diseases! Which is just a variation on "diseases aren't that awful". 

I'm sure the 554000 people who had DIED from COVID in the US alone, and the millions dead from COVID around the world would disagree. 

Frankly, the logic is backward. The more we immunize, the LESS CHANCE a disease can spread and mutate. This is a virus, NOT a bacteria. Bacteria and natural selection will create more drug-resistant bacteria, but that's because we can't kill all bacteria. Coronavirus is NOT a bacteria. The virus can only replicate when it infects a host. And the more it replicates, the more chances it mutates and becomes a new variant. Immunization means a virus cannot infect the host, cannot replicate, cannot mutate, cannot create new variants. 

Furthermore, modern vaccines usually sequence the whole virus, not just a specific segment of it, and thus the vaccine is effective against multiple variants, not the specific strain. We've seen in the reports that several of the existing COVID vaccines are effective against the new variants. While using the "older" vaccines on the new variants did produce fewer antibodies vs the original virus, medical professionals agree that they should still provide adequate protection to trigger the immune system. Furthermore, being immunized means you cannot be an asymptomatic carrier/spreader. 

And the vaccine makers are not standing still. They are evaluating strategies to create new variants of vaccines to protect against multiple variants, would a third dose help stop the variants, and so on. 

So What Do We Do About It?

So what do we do about vaccine hesitancy? Usually, showing them the facts, and let them PROPERLY weigh the risks vs. reward should be sufficient. 

But if they are the type to treat NaturalNews as "one true news" and laments how Infowars was shut down by "leftie wingnuts" then there's no saving them from themselves. They would describe themselves as "not anti-vax". Indeed, RFK Jr describes himself as pro-vaccine, even though he runs an anti-vax organization. Indeed, a dozen people generated 2/3rds of all antivax messages on Facebook and Twitter

When people go to extreme lengths to jump the queue for COVID vaccine (such as a Canadian couple flew to remote village for vaccine meant for locals or Mexican celebrity flew to Florida for COVID vaccine) one can only say "more for the rest of us" should some people choose to not get in line. 

And if they happen to survive, remind them about herd immunity and luck.