There is a universal human propensity to something called the omission bias. This is our tendency to see greater fault in action that leads to harmful outcomes than inaction that leads to equally harmful outcomes. We would like to see that our choice not to get vaccinated only affects us and no one else, but it’s not that simple.
People are scared of the vaccines because they are unfamiliar, because they are injected into the body, because they haven’t been tested for years. They have been tested now on hundreds of millions of people with a very low percentage of people having side-effects. As the vaccine only stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies and the actual vaccine material is shed from the body within days, long-term side-effects seem unlikely. Incidents of so-called long-covid are much higher among unvaccinated, and there are very few cases so far from one of the vaccines. Catching the virus will likely produce roughly the same immune response as the vaccine or worse, and at the rate it is spreading across the country, everyone is likely to catch it eventually.
Fear of mainstream medicine is not unfounded. Pharmaceutical companies have done damage to society due to greed. The Sackler family alone has pushed a legal drug epidemic upon society causing millions to be addicted. The mainstream medical paradigm of clobbering symptoms with high-force interventions instead of searching for root causes has led to an obese and generally pretty sick society with very little sense of agency over our health. There is much to distrust and change about our approach to health.
Then there are many conspiracy theories being spun around, causing fear of vaccines. As ridiculous as those claims may be, the more of them we hear, the more likely we are to believe them, and the more uncomfortable we become. There are many doctors who have been at odds with the mainstream medical culture for decades who are proud to speak out against an industry they see as greedy, backwards, and even predatory. They don’t know everything, but they are fighting for a more wholistic approach to healthcare that isn’t always using technology to dominate nature. Without having done the specific research on the vaccines, these people and their followers are already against them for ideological reasons.
These larger wars around medical culture are valid. But there is also the pragmatics of today. We aren’t going to be able to completely change our culture in an instant. People who are already unhealthy aren’t all going to become healthy before they are infected by Covid-19. Exercise and good diet are great ways to prevent serious illness and improve overall quality of life, and those who can do that should. The CDC and the WHO should be telling everyone to get as much exercise and eat as healthy as possible right now, and the fact that they aren’t is troubling. But many people can’t just trust their immune systems. Many people are at high risk of death if they get infected by this virus. There are people who can’t get vaccinated who are in more danger because of our choices not to. The virus has more time to mutate in unvaccinated bodies. The longer the pandemic lasts the more it evolves. Not teaming up together to defeat this virus but squabbling amongst each other over misinformation, politicization, and spin is killing people who otherwise would have survived. It’s real, not just theoretical. The inaction is a choice that results in more deaths.
I don’t believe in forced vaccinations. I don’t like the idea of forcing or coercion at all. But willful ignorance or misinformation around the virus and the vaccines is immoral when lives are at stake. You could choose to research the vaccines to understand how they work and their efficacy before you decide to take them or not. Instead, we see the ostrich effect, confirmation bias, the backfire effect, the spreading of conspiracy and misinformation leading people down a rabbit hole that their minds are fearfully primed for. This is all immoral action and inaction causing needless suffering and death.
Do learn about the vaccines, and not from conspiracy snake-oil peddlers with an axe to grind or profit to turn or an ideological or political angle, but from actual experts in their fields of virology and epidemiology. And look at the majority opinion of these experts rather than the sensational outlier. Your actions and inactions matter right now. Please, take responsibility.