On Monday December 14 2020, trucks packed with a newly approved Covid-19 vaccine rolled into cities and towns to set up shop for distribution. A highly anticipated event as by December over 1.6 million people had perished from the disease, more than 300 thousand of those in the United States alone.
The vaccine was furiously sought by many labs and drug companies. In the end, two took the lead: Moderna and Pfizer. Both vaccines are mRNA derived, which is different and new from what we have seen of vaccines previously. Instead of using small amounts of non-viable virus, mRNA enters into the cells and produces a small part of the germ so the body can recognize it as an intruder and learn to defeat it. Plainly put, mRNA acts as a blueprint for our immune system to fight back.
Both Moderna and Pfizer report seeing 95% efficacy in preventing serious illness and complications, though, one can still become infected with Covid.
However, vaccines are only effective if you can convince people to take them. As the rollout amps up, so does the variance in people’s willingness to be inoculated.
There are two obvious camps here: ‘yes, I will take it’ and ‘no, get that thing away from me’. Within each reaction, there’s a spectrum of reasons why and how people are making their decisions.
According to Groundcover News vendor Jon MacDonagh, it’s all about the science.
“We have to believe in science,” reports MacDonagh. “We must have hope – I feel [the vaccine] is a good idea and it’s going to help.”
This is not an uncommon phrase heard from proponents of the vaccination. Many are choosing to believe officials who advocate for the safety and effectiveness of the Covid vaccine.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has striven to drive out conspirators and strengthen the confidence of those waffling with the decision. Misinformation and divisive rhetoric from the Trump Administration has left some worrying that they don’t have enough fact to make the right decision. Still some choose the shot.
“It’s like a car,” reports community member Lisa Gizzi. “I don’t know how any of that works, but I trust the mechanics who do.”
It seems reasonable to have trust in a system that has been growing and evolving over many years, developing some of the most impressive medical advances seen throughout our history. However, history may just be the reason others refuse.
“The vaccine is bullshit,” states GCN vendor, Joe Woods. “Maybe it’d be good if it was done right, but this is a money scheme from the government – you never know what they’re putting in it.”
“I’m not getting that shot!” cries GNC vendor Gary Robertson. “I don’t want to be tracked or nothing. I just don’t worry about it, that’ll only cause more problems.
These statements may seem hyperbolic, however, medicine has a sour history of exploiting communities of color in the name of medical progression.
Many are aware of the Tuskegee study where over the period of 40 years the United States Public Health Service falsely treated 600 impoverished Black men diagnosed with Syphilis. The goal of this violation was to study the effects and progression of the untreated disease.
Perhaps not as commonly discussed is the long standing mistreatment of the Black community. Forced sterilizations, historic inequity of healthcare access and resources, as well as the use of Black bodies for medical experimentation are just the tipping point of exposing the structural medical violence communities of color have faced.
Others take issue not with what’s in the vaccine, but who gets what out of it. Another vendor, Derek Allen, notes his concern about the quick turn around of the product.
“It’s a setup. [The government] made the virus and spread it so they could sell the vaccine. It’s all for the money.”
In a time where capitalism is being called into question, the concept of the vaccine being just another financial swindling isn’t too far outside the realm of possibility.
Others still declare concerns of the long term effects .
GNC vendor Larzell Washington makes it clear that he is not planning to take the vaccine. Washington reports hearing too many mixed messages regarding the potential for problems from the vaccine down the road.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” concludes Washington.
While the long term effects have yet to be realized, they may or may not be worse than the lasting realities of the Corona virus. As we get further away from patient zero, there have been reports of lasting health conditions as the virus viciously attacks the lungs, heart, and brain. Enduring fatigue and joint pain are the most common, but lasting heart defects and permanent brain fog are not unheard of as well.
When it comes to the vaccine, there are several reasons people chose one way or the other. We don’t have all the answers, which can make it difficult to decide. Hope, health, and being heard is all we can ask for as we work to battle this new age pandemic.