Covid Vaccine FAQ part 5: Vaccine Necessity
Updated: Jul 31, 2021
This is Part 5 of a multi-part series. Part 1 covers foundational information about how the vaccines work and common questions / myths related to vaccine technology. Part 2 covers questions related to vaccine ingredients and potential toxicity. Part 3 covers questions regarding the safety of the Covid vaccines. Part 4 discusses how effective the vaccine is, especially compared to natural immunity after getting Covid.
In this section I will cover questions and issues related to the necessity of getting vaccinated.
I'm healthy, and low risk for getting really sick or dying from Covid, why should I bother to get vaccinated?
If the majority of people get vaccinated, can I get away with not getting it (aka herd immunity)?
If you would like to navigate directly to the other posts you can click below.
How the Vaccine Works Vaccine Ingredients Vaccine Safety Vaccine Efficacy
Why Getting Vaccinated is So Important
It is not about you. I can't stress how much this is not about you.
I have struggled quite a bit with this post. I know that the perspective I share on this topic will be very unpopular with some people. I have decided to go forward with writing anyway, mainly because the language I am hearing in my local community feels like it is missing the central point. Many people seem to be focusing on what is "right" for themselves, and their only concern is that they make the choice that is right for them. Most of the language I hear revolves around self and individual (and individual rights). I am not hearing as much about how these decisions affect the people around us, our community, our country, or the global community. I am not hearing much about how the health of the community affects each of us. The voices discussing the impact on the economy if this pandemic continues (and how that affects us all) are few and far between.
The central point is that we are all in this together. We have been from the beginning. The actions of even a few individuals during this pandemic affect us all. A small percent of people choosing to hoard toilet paper drove months of shortages that were not even real (the shelves were empty each day and got re-stocked each night, but panic would drive people to empty the shelves the next day). One person choosing not to mask, and spreading the virus to 10 others, cascades into thousands being infected in a matter of weeks. We will not find our way through this pandemic if we only consider ourselves. The only way out of this is for us to honor the truth that we are all connected and act accordingly.
I need to make one other really important point before I move to the Q & A. There are people who truly cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons. I want to acknowledge that fact, and acknowledge that those who can't get vaccinated are our most vulnerable community members. I am writing this post in the hope that it will inspire those who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated. I feel a personal obligation to protect those most vulnerable in our communities. One thing I can do to protect you is to get vaccinated myself (done!). Another is to share my knowledge with the hope that information will overcome fear and prejudice.
Some of the analogies I make in this post are harsh. They will make some of you uncomfortable but I think they are solid comparisons and I think these points need to be made. Those of you who are too ill to get vaccinated, please know that these analogies apply to people who are healthy and are choosing not to get vaccinated for reasons of principle.
OK, deep breath. Here we go.
Q: Why is this vaccine more important than other vaccines?
A: This vaccine is more important than most other vaccines for several reasons. The central reason is that stopping the spread of Covid is essential, and we cannot stop the spread without a significant portion of the population being vaccinated.
Why is Covid a bigger concern than other infectious diseases? First, Covid-19 spreads more quickly and easily than a lot of other infectious diseases. Second, Covid-19 is significantly more deadly than other diseases with a similar spreading pattern. Third, Covid-19 can be spread even if you are asymptomatic or only have a mild case. Fourth, and to me this is the biggest issue, Covid-19 can cause long term health issues (even in very mild cases). The lung, heart, brain, and kidney damage caused by long-term Covid-19 is not only debilitating for millions of people, but it also sets them up for many other long term health issues (like dementia, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and autoimmune disease). This vaccine is more important than other vaccines because it is much more about protecting the community (local, national, global) than it is about protecting yourself.
Stopping the Spread
Covid-19 has an Ro (pronounced "arr naught") of 6. That means that each infected person infects about 6 new people, then those 6 people, infect 6 more people EACH. So with just 2 degrees of separation you have gone from 1 person with Covid to 43 infected people. Imagine what this looks like after 6 degrees of separation. Oh wait, it looks like a global pandemic with millions of people dead and disabled, lockdowns, travel restrictions, and no hugs for a year.
This is what the spread looks like in an unvaccinated population for a virus that has a Ro=6 spread rate. Yeesh, scary right?
Now, imagine that same diagram when 70% of the people are vaccinated. Four or five of the second tier people would be immune and would not pass the virus on. In the third tier, four or five of the people in each group would also be immune and not pass the virus on.
Now, instead of 43 people infected after 2 degrees of separation, you have only 6 people infected.
In this second scenario, the virus can still spread a little bit, but it cannot take off like a wildfire. In this scenario, viral infections are something that can be easily managed by our healthcare system, and does not necessitate travel restrictions, or lockdowns.