The term “vaccine hesitancy” is relatively new, but the worries about vaccines go back to when vaccines were first developed in the 18th century. The unease about vaccines has been based on various reasons, including environmental and alternative health reasons, false reports of links between vaccination, and various developmental problems. However, most of these fears have been debunked and are no longer consistent with the actual science.
The most recent outbreak of vaccine hesitancy is focused not on immunizations given to children but on the COVID-19 vaccine. People have even associated their anti-vaccine sentiments and spirituality, politics, mistrust of the government, and embrace of conspiracy theories.
Unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy is not just a difference of opinion. For example, if a person wants to refrain from eating food with pesticides or doesn’t want to eat meat, that decision does not impact other people. However, as we have learned, enduring new variations of the COVID-19 virus, if there is not widespread vaccination, herd immunity can’t be achieved by the country, and people are vulnerable to new iterations of the illness.
The Origins of Vaccine Hesitant
Vaccine hesitancy began with the invention of the process of immunization. English physician Edward Jenner in 1796 discovered that people could avoid potentially deadly smallpox infections by injecting them with less harmful microbes that could cause cowpox. Although some people died after being infected with cowpox, the death rates from smallpox were much higher, and this process did save lives.
Vaccines for various potentially deadly or debilitating illnesses such as polio and measles were developed through the centuries. However, a new wave of anti-vaccination hysteria erupted over a single study published in the Lancet in 2000 that seemed to link the MMR vaccine and a higher risk of autism. The study was subsequently found not to have been conducted properly and was debunked by other studies. However, the mistrust of vaccines lingered, and the anti-vaccination movement grew. As a result, diseases such as measles re-emerged after having been nearly eradicated.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Epidemic
The COVID-19 vaccine has been considered a blessing by many people who were tired of lockdowns and wanted to get back to regular life. In addition, it has reduced the risk of the severity of the illness. However, to anti-vaxxers, the COVID vaccines are a curse, and many even believe they are part of a sinister plot to take over the world.
Conspiracy theories about the COVID vaccine abound. Some feel it was created by billionaires, scientists, and politicians to practice mind control over the population. Others think vaccines are the tool of Satan. So what are the facts about COVID vaccines?
The Facts Vs. Vaccine Fears
COVID-19 vaccines are generally safe and effective. They are 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 with side effects in very few cases. Moreover, even the few people who get COVID-19 following the vaccine have much lower fatality rates than those who are not vaccinated.
How to Convince People to Get Vaccinated
The people who believe that vaccines are part of a world domination plot or a tool of Satan are the minority among the unvaccinated. It is safe to say that these people are not going to be convinced. However, the people who are on the fence and are concerned about the safety of the vaccines may be easier to deal with.
Sometimes it takes the desire to go to a movie, a ball game, and a restaurant to convince people to take the vaccine. In some places, vaccine mandates are not widespread and not even allowed, but it is almost certain that more people will get vaccinated if there is pressure. Others may, unfortunately, see others get sick and conclude that they don’t want to take the risk. Hopefully, family and friends who are vaccine-hesitant can be convinced before they become infected.