Vaccine hesitancy can hamper efforts put in place to protect people from preventable diseases around the world. Vaccines prevent millions of deaths every year and are vital to the achievement of the United Nations’ Global Goal 3, which aims to secure access to good health and well-being for all. By extension, vaccine hesitancy was listed as one of the top 10 threats to global health by the World Health Organization (WHO) all the way back in in 2019 — but in 2021, it has become more threatening than ever.
Defined by the WHO as the “reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines,” it has the potential to reverse progress in eliminating some of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases.
Today, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage communities worldwide, the threat of vaccine hesitancy has become even more evident and urgent. CFN's own Dr. Kelly Ernst offers his thoughts below and stresses both the power of misinformation, as well as the empowering action of seeking out facts when making your decisions.
Kelly Ernst, Ph.D.
May 2, 2021
By now you can likely list off the ways your personal life has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Unfortunately, as I write, more than 1.2 million people in Canada have been infected with the virus and more than 24,000 people have died, a 2.1% death rate. At the start of the pandemic, those more severely affected were the elderly. Now, the COVID-19 variants have started to affect in younger age groups.
Thankfully, the vaccines have given hope to the end of the current pandemic. However, vaccine hesitancy is hindering vaccine rollout. The concerns about vaccines are side effects associated with the vaccines. The concerns are fuelled by misinformation, social media, and an unfortunate focus by standard medias to focus on the rarest events without reporting the overall evidence.
It is very important to go to original sources and information reviewed by credible health experts. Here is what we know about the vaccines from Health Canada, at the time of writing this article:
More than 12 million doses of the vaccines have been administered, growing each day.
Minor and non-severe side effects are a sign your immune system is working. These include symptoms such as soreness at the injection site, headaches, fatigue and so on.
Among people vaccinated, approximately .0045% of people (just over 600) reported serious health issues after being vaccinated. Among these cases, many investigated cases are found not to be connected to the vaccines, making attributable cases associated with the vaccine much lower.
With respect to blood clots (i.e. Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome), 6 cases have been associated with the vaccines (a rate of .000054% compared to 2.5% of the Canadian population having a stroke each year in Canada, at least 1.6% of people with COVID-19 will report a stroke, and one in five deaths in Canada attributed to strokes).
Regarding reported deaths and those with completed investigations, 95% were reported not associated with the vaccine, leaving one death among the 12 million associated with the vaccine (a death rate of .00000897% compared to a 2.1% death rate among those infected with COVID-19).
The rate of severe consequences (such as Thrombosis and other side effects) is hundreds of times higher after being infected by the COVID-19 virus than getting after taking any of the approved vaccines. Death is thousands of times higher if you should be infected with the virus compared with taking a vaccine. The risks associated with the vaccines are so low that Thrombosis Canada has issued the following statement,
“Thrombosis Canada continues to strongly recommend that all eligible adults receive the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines, including people with a prior blood clot, those with a blood clotting tendency (e.g., factor V Leiden mutation), and people who are receiving blood thinners as the benefits of receiving the vaccine far outweigh the risks.”
Regarding variants of concern, we also know that no credible medical body is recommending avoiding the vaccine due to concerns vaccines may not be effective against the virus variants. In fact, just the opposite exists, research is beginning to accumulate regarding the usefulness of vaccines against the variant strains. As a result, major health organizations such as the World Health Organization, Centres for Disease Control and Health Canada are stating that variants can be hindered with current vaccines.
When we examine the data, then it makes sense, get a vaccine. Furthermore, we know that vaccines have eliminated or far reduced the possibility of getting a wide range of other diseases. We know vaccines work. We also know that doing nothing puts you, your family, neighbours, clients, and strangers at risk of severe consequences and even death.
If you are still hesitant, consult your physician and get a note to exclude you from getting a vaccine. You may need it, but that’s for another article.
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