The term “vaccine hesitancy” is being used to characterize a large percentage of people who have not lined up to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The term “vaccine hesitancy” implies a pause to reflect before getting vaccinated. It is a term that implies that people who aren’t vaccinated are simply thinking it over, or are procrastinating, but they will eventually come around and receive the jab. It’s a public relations term to help vaccine holdouts see themselves as only temporarily unvaccinated. The assumption is that everyone, deep down, really wants to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but some temporary concerns, all unfounded, are getting in the way.
However, many people are not hesitating to get vaccinated for COVID. They are resisting.
“Vaccine resistance” happens when you don’t want the vaccine, and you feel the government is trying to force it upon you, which we might call “vaccine coercion”. Many people are wary of the hard-selling of these vaccines and “vaccine coercion”, and have an instinctive resistance to being pushed. The more you push, the more they resist.
Some people think of vaccines, especially heavily promoted ones with novel technology that is currently only under emergency approval, as riskier than the disease, and are resisting these vaccines to protect themselves from potential side effects. The fact that the science regarding these side effects is still developing and uncertain adds to this vaccine resistance.
Realize that people who do not trust vaccines are more likely to experience negative side effects than those who want the vaccine. This is due to a negative placebo, or nocebo, effect. When people expect a negative outcome, they are more likely to experience it. This raises ethical concerns about “vaccine coercion”. Forcing people to receive a vaccine which they fear and do not want will create more hardship and side effects for these people than for the general, vaccine-accepting public, and is therefore exposing this group to greater harm from side effects.
This raises issues of social justice, which requires the respect of diverse opinions and lifestyle choices, including the choice not to vaccinate. We typically respect that choice, as well as the choice of what kind of medical care one is willing to accept. Coercion to vaccinate by “vaccine shaming” those who resist is inequitable treatment of this group.
Ironically, the greatest proponents of mandatory vaccinations and forced compliance are the politically progressives, who want to protect all minority and oppressed groups other than the unvaccinated. They see the unvaccinated as a threat to others and a remnant of malignant individualism. Meanwhile, some conservatives in US culture see “vaccine coercion” as a malignant threat to individual liberty. Public health mandates are inherently anti-individual and anti-freedom, and will be resisted by those who see individual freedom as the highest social value.
Confounding the entire vaccine issue is the profit motive. In an investment article about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it is noted,“The worst-case scenario for Pfizer and Moderna was that their COVID-19 vaccines wouldn’t work. The second-worst scenario might be that their vaccines work too well.” The reasoning is that, “If their vaccines provide protection against COVID-19 for years, the companies won’t sell nearly as many vaccine doses in future as they will in 2021 and 2022.” The article concludes, “Pfizer and Moderna want their vaccines to be highly effective, but they also hope that booster doses are needed at least annually. That’s the best-case scenario for both companies.”
Many people already realize that the drug industry profits from disease, and prefers pharmaceutical interventions to natural remedies or letting the body heal itself. Billions of dollars annually are spent on “alternative medicine” treatments, as mistrust in Big Pharma grows. The Food and Drug Administration is highly influenced and lobbied by drug companies, with a “revolving door” policy, where officials move between government advisory boards and drug company advisory boards. It’s healthy to be skeptical about healthcare advise from anyone, but especially when money is to be made. Some drug companies have made a killing on COVID. And Congress still has an insider trading problem.
All these considerations help reveal why so many millions of people resist COVID-19 vaccination. Distrust in the vaccine reflects distrust in the medical and political system. It also means there may be a control group of unvaccinated individuals to compare with the vaccinated group over the years. Will there be adverse vaccine side effects revealed years down the road? Will the unvaccinated regret their decision to stay clear of the vaccine?
Time will only tell, as this public experiment in pandemic management unfolds.