- As many as one-third of adults in the United States are choosing to delay or refuse the experimental COVID-19 vaccines and several reasons have been suggested, such as the spread of so-called “misinformation” on social media, the fast tracking of the COVID vaccines and safety concerns about potential long-term side effects of the vaccines.
- Public health officials argue that most people who question the safety and effectiveness of the experimental COVID vaccines struggle with “health illiteracy” and are unable to understand the science or differentiate between misinformation and valid scientific data.
- In terms of health and safety concerns, fears about the potential impact on fertility and the increased risk for heart inflammation in teenagers and young adults are two claims either publicly dismissed or deemed an acceptable risk.
With close to one-third of adults in the United States choosing to delay or forego the experimental COVID-19 vaccines, the medical industry is reportedly trying to understand the reasons behind the hesitancy and figure out how to persuade more Americans to get vaccinated. Several key reasons have been identified, including the influence of so-called “misinformation” on social media, which refers to information that is not sanctioned by the government or mainstream medical community. Other suggested reasons for resistance to use of COVID-19 vaccines include “misunderstanding the science” presented by public health officials; mistrust of doctors and the medical establishment; concerns over safety and the potential long-term adverse effects of the vaccines; speed of vaccine development and distribution of the vaccines under an emergency use authorization (EUA); and concerns that underlying poor health conditions may increase vulnerability to vaccine reactions.1 2
Demographically, women, Black Americans, and those with conservative political views are most likely to refuse the COVID-19 vaccines. One study noted that, since women are statistically responsible for 80 percent of healthcare decisions for U.S. families, “their hesitancy may have implications for men and children as well.”3
COVID Vaccine Skeptics’ Intelligence is Questioned
Pointing out that many southern states, particularly in rural areas, tend to have high rates of vaccine hesitancy, Jennifer Dillaha, MD, medical director for immunizations at the Arkansas Department of Health, believes that access to misinformation is the key factor in her state’s low, 34 percent vaccination rate. As she told MedPage Today, “They have difficulty sorting through the information available, and they are not able to distinguish accurate information from misinformation.”
Citing a “misconception that steps must have been skipped, or that the technology behind the mRNA vaccines is brand new” as evidence of the kind of misinformation that is contributing to vaccine hesitancy in Arkansas, Dillaha maintains that the “only evidence that remains from longer-term trials is the duration of protection.”4 She goes on to include other southern states in her opinion pertaining to rural health illiteracy:
I think in general people in the South struggle more with health literacy than in other parts of the country… Much of the south is rural, and people who struggle with health literacy need healthcare providers to help them sort through information.
Others, sensitive to the valid reasons for mistrust in government and medical authorities, particularly among people of color, urge healthcare providers to really listen to concerns of those who will not jump to be vaccinated just because they are told to do it. Natasha Williams, EdD, MPH, assistant professor of population health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, points out that, “The issue of hesitancy or mistrust is really justified… I don’t think it’s a major request for people to have questions and to get their questions answered from trusted sources.”5
Serious COVID-19 Adverse Events Reported in Europe and U.S.
Some of the concerns raised about COVID-19 vaccines include potential impact on fertility, neurological side effects and the increased risk of heart inflammation (myocarditis) in young people. Most common adverse events reported in clinical trials after COVID-19 mRNA vaccines include pain at the injection site; axillary swelling/lymphadenopathy (pain under armpit from swollen lymph nodes), fever, headache, fatigue, myalgia (muscle pain), arthralgia (joint pain), nausea/vomiting, chills.6 7
A U.S. media outlet, Homeland Security Today, reported on July 22 that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has acknowledged that:8
- Anaphylaxis occurs after COVID-19 vaccinations in approximately two to five people per million;
- Thrombosis with thrombocytopenic syndrome (TTS), a blood disorder involving low platelets and blood clots that can lead to death, can occur rarely after Johnson & Johnson/Janssen human adenovirus vectored COVID-19 vaccinations. (TTS has also been reported after Moderna/NIAID mRNA COVID-19 vaccinations but the CDC maintains that a casual relationship has not been established).
- There have been 1,148 reports filed with the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) involving inflammation of the heart (myocarditis, pericarditis) among people under age 30 following receipt of mRNA vaccines manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/NIAID, primarily among male adolescents and young adults, that are being investigated.
- There have been over 6,000 deaths reported to VAERS after COVID-19 vaccinations. The CDC states that, “Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem.”
According to a Canadian report, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) vaccine adverse event monitoring system has identified the most commonly reported serious adverse events associated with receipt of COVID-19 vaccines, although health officials say that causality has not yet been definitively established. In descending order, the most common serious adverse events reported in the EMA system are fainting (syncope), blood clot(s) in the lungs, anaphylactic reactions, deep vein thrombosis, pneumonia, low blood platelet count (thrombocytopenia), blood clot(s) or bleeding in the brain, hallucinations, cerebral stroke and loss of consciousness.9
Mainstream Scientists Dismiss COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Fertility, Miscarriage Concerns
With regard to fertility questions, there have been reports pointing out the similarities between the SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins and proteins involved in the key functions of placenta, leading to speculation that the vaccine could trigger an adverse immune response to placenta and potentially cause miscarriages.10 The idea is widely disputed by public health officials and doctors quoted in the mainstream media articles.11 According to D’Angela Pitts, MD, for example, “The proteins are not similar enough to cause placenta to not attach to an embryo.”12
Nevertheless, other respected virologists, such as biochemist and molecular biologist Janci Chunn Lindsay, PhD and virologist William Gallaher, PhD, have discussed the plausibility of the concept that, “Covid vaccines will cross-react with the syncytin and reproductive proteins in sperm, ova, and placenta, leading to impaired fertility and impaired reproductive and gestational outcomes.”13
Virologist Presents Evidence for COVID-19 Vaccine Spike Protein
Byron Bridle, PhD, Associate Professor of Viral Immunology in the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph in Canada, has presented evidence that the experimental COVID-19 vaccine does not, as was initially believed, remain localized at the injection site but, instead, what he describes as the vaccine’s biologically active spike protein may get into the blood and be distributed widely throughout the body. Dr. Bridle contends that, “…once injected, the vaccine contents appear to travel extensively throughout the body, to the brain and other sensitive tissues, such as bone marrow, spleen, liver, adrenal glands, ovaries, etc. Whether these body sites are involved in producing the spike protein is not known, as this was never studied.”14
Dr. Bridle does not believe that the experimental COVID-19 vaccines should be given to children and young adults of childbearing age. He says the genetically engineered SARS-CoV-2 spike protein component in the COVID-19 vaccine has the potential to cause “undesirable effects such as damage to the heart and cardiovascular system, blood clots, bleeding, and neurological effects.” He adds that:
Although some might argue that the risk of the spike protein causing this type of damage is only a theoretical risk, when we are mass vaccinating a population of predominantly healthy people, including children, adolescents, and adults of child-bearing age, there is absolutely no room for avoidable error.15
COVID-19 Vaccine: Increased Risk for Myocarditis
Public health officials argue that serious adverse events, such as an increased risk for myocarditis in young people following COVID-19 vaccinations, can be considered “justifiable risks” because most victims fully recover and the disorder is generally treatable in the vaccinated population. By age, the incidence of myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination compared to baseline numbers are: Ages 12-17, 132 observed vs 1-12 expected; ages 18-24: 233 observed vs 2-25 expected; ages 25-29: 69 observed vs 2-21 expected and ages 30-39: 71 observed vs 5-48 expected.
Vaccination is estimated to prevent 5,700 COVID cases, 215 hospitalizations, 71 ICU admissions and two deaths in males between the ages of 12 and 17, “at a cost of 56 to 69 myocarditis cases.”16
Neurological Reactions Reported After COVID-19 Vaccination
Neurologic sequelae, including an increased risk for development of Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS), has been reported in rare cases following receipt of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change labeling for that vaccine. GBS is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks nerve cells and may cause muscle weakness or paralysis and other symptoms include weakness or tingling in limbs; difficulty walking, speaking, chewing or swallowing; double vision; and compromised bowel or bladder control. According to he FDA, 95 of the 100 cases of GBS following vaccination required hospitalization, and one person died.17
Stopping short of acknowledging a causal relationship between GBS and the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, the updated label reads, in part:
Reports of adverse events following use of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine under emergency use authorization suggest an increased risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome during the 42 days following vaccination… Although the available evidence suggests an association between the Janssen [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine and increased risk of GBS, it is insufficient to establish a causal relationship.18
Although the association with GBS has been more widely publicized with the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen human adenovirus vectored vaccine, GBS has also been reported following Pfizer’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.19
In addition to neurological disorders like GBS, cardiac and blood clotting disorders have been reported following COVID-19 vaccines available in this country, as well as with the AstraZeneca/University of Oxford experimental chimpanzee advenovirus vectored COVID-19 vaccine being distributed in Europe and elsewhere.20
The CDC and FDA continue to maintain that the experimental Covid-19 vaccines being distributed under an EUA in the U.S. are all safe and effective, and the benefits outweigh the risks.
Other Concerns of Vaccine Skeptics Dismissed
Although the FDA has never licensed an mRNA vaccine for use in humans, Gabriel Lockhart, MD, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist in Denver dismisses concern over the relative newness of the mRNA technology and the fast tracked licensing process of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, saying the approach “isn’t that new. We’ve had experience with mRNA technology for the last two decades.” Dr. Lockhart also notes that the speed with which the vaccines were rolled out is akin to “having six different construction companies that were all employed to build separate skyscrapers. They’re told a skyscraper typically takes two years to build. But then they’re all told, ‘Hey, we need all of you to focus on the same skyscraper and expedite the production. Pivot your focus all on the same skyscraper.’”21
Some of the measures undertaken by healthcare authorities include assigning guilt to those who choose to wait. One source suggests that those who refuse to get vaccinated should be last in line for limited resources,22 should have to pay for their own hospital care if they get a serious case of COVID-19 so they don’t take from responsible citizens who do the right ting and get vaccinated,23 and be barred from other types of services if they can’t prove they’ve been vaccinated.24 One headline goes so far as to say, “Young children will pay the price if enough US adults don’t get vaccinated against Covid-19.”25
Taking a different approach, Richard Seidman, MD, chief medical officer of L.A. Care Health Plan said:
Because there can be so many different, highly personal reasons why someone might be hesitant to take the vaccine, it’s best to approach people in a supportive and respectful manner and make it clear that your goal is to understand what their concerns are.26
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Click here to view References:
1 Henderson J. Who Are the COVID Vaccine ‘Holdouts’? MedPage Today June 29, 2021.
2 Howley EK. How to Talk to Someone Who’s Hesitant to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine U.S. News & World Report May 12, 2021.
3 JoJack B. Which US Demographics Are More Likely To Refuse A COVID-19 Vaccine? Medical News Today Jan. 11, 2021.
4 Henderson J. Who Are the COVID Vaccine ‘Holdouts’? MedPage Today June 29, 2021.
6 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Local Reactions, Systemic Reactions, Adverse Events, and Serious Adverse Events: Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. Dec. 20, 2021.
7 CDC. Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine: FDA Decision Memorandum. Dec. 20, 2020.
8 Homeland Security Today. CDC Facts on Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination. July 22, 2021.
9 Bridle BW. COVID-19 Vaccines and Children: A Scientist’s Guide for Parents Canadian Covid Care Alliance June 15, 2021.
10 Rights and Freedoms New mRNA Vaccine Could Cause Immune Cells To Attack Placenta Cells, Causing Female Infertility, Miscarriage Or Birth Defects.
11 MU Healthcare. Does the COVID-19 Vaccine Affect Fertility? Here’s What the Experts Say. 2021.
12 Henry Ford Health System Staff. Here’s Where That COVID-19 Vaccine Infertility Myth Came From—And Why It Is Not True Henry Ford Health System Apr. 23, 2021.
13 Margulis J. Halt Covid Vaccine, Prominent Scientist Tells CDC. JenniferMargulis.net.
14 Bridle BW. COVID-19 Vaccines and Children: A Scientist’s Guide for Parents. Canadian Covid Care Alliance June 15, 2021.
16 Fiore K. Here’s Why Experts Are Comfortable With Myocarditis Numbers MedPage Today June 24, 2021.
17 Sealy A, Bonifield J, Fox M. FDA Warns Of Potential Rare Neurological Complication With Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus Vaccine CNN Health July 13, 2021.
19 Waheed S, et al. Neurological Complications of COVID-19: Guillain-Barre Syndrome Following Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Cureus February, 2021.
20 Attkisson S. (NEW) Covid-19 Vaccine Serious Side Effects Expand: First Case Of Blood Clot Disorder After Double-Dose Reported SharylAttkisson.com June 30, 2021.
21 Howley EK. How to Talk to Someone Who’s Hesitant to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine U.S. News & World Report May 12, 2021.
22 Crutchfield P. Opinion: Vaccine Refusers Should Be Last In Line For Limited Medical Resources Bridge Michigan July 6, 2021.
23 SchmidtWaterloo B. Vaccine Refusers Should Pay For Their Hospital Care. The Record July 14, 2021.
24 Michaelson J. Here’s How We Handle People Who Refuse to Get COVID Vaccines. The Daily Beast Dec. 11, 2020.
25 Holcombe M. Young Children Will Pay The Price If Enough US Adults Don’t Get Vaccinated Against Covid-19, Expert Says CNN Health July 14, 2021.
26 Howley EK. How to Talk to Someone Who’s Hesitant to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine U.S. News & World Report May 12, 2021.