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Shot can bring us normalcy

With vaccine enthusiasm increasing across the country, it would be interesting to see updated numbers for a recently released survey that said Maui County residents were the most hesitant in the state to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

The survey provided by the state Department of Health was taken in the first half of December, before vaccinations became available. Has seeing friends, family and neighbors vaccinated changed minds? Are positive messaging campaigns working?

Having received both doses of the Moderna vaccine with no negative effects, we find it hard to understand why others would not want the same relief and protection. As one local physician said recently, “The vaccine saves your life and it saves your family’s life.”

The shots are virtual COVID-19 Get Out of Jail Free cards, yet only half of Maui County residents surveyed said they were ready to be vaccinated. Nationally, the number is 47 percent.

It would be convenient to blame this hesitancy on internet conspiracy theories, bad information or debunked anti-vaccination campaigns. To have such a large number of people who are either unwilling to be vaccinated or have decided to wait and see, means there is more to the matter. These sentiments cut too wide a swath for one-size-fits-all answers.

An article by New York Times writer David Leonhardt faults the media and government officials for underselling the vaccines. He quotes Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, as saying the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are “essentially 100 percent effective against serious disease. It’s ridiculously encouraging.”

Leonhardt says the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are among best ever created, with effectiveness rates at 95 percent after two doses. The other five percent were also protected. They just came down with minor cases of the virus.

During its trial phase, the Moderna vaccine was reportedly administered to 30,000 people without one negative reaction. Out of the first million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine administered in the U.S., there were only 11 allergic reactions reported. Take those odds to Vegas and you’ll soon own the city.

What advice can be given to skeptics? According to the experts and their vetted data: COVID-19 vaccines do not alter or interact with DNA. They do not cause the disease, nor do they cause autism or birth defects. The vaccine provides a far stronger immune response than being infected by COVID-19. There may come a time when proof of vaccination is required to travel or attend large public events. The shots are free.

For now, there are more people on Maui anxious to get the vaccine than there are doses available. Let’s hope supply soon meets demand. Every poke in the arm has the potential to save a life. It also moves us all one step closer to herd immunity and a return to normalcy.

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