Updated: Sep 2, 2021
This blog will not be about aging but rather about the 41.9% vaccine-eligible Americans who remain unvaccinated. As a society, we are divided by race, politics, social awareness, sex, economics, and most recently by vaccination status. In some cities, the unvaccinated are denied entry to restaurants, gyms, and music venues to name some of the penalties. Some people are even calling for their imprisonment and death. To be clear, “The goal of the U.S. government is to have enough COVID-19 vaccine for all people in the United States who wish to be vaccinated.”
Citations for the above Introductory paragraph:
“States have authority to fine or jail people who refuse coronavirus vaccine, attorney says. Legal precedent dates back to 1905,” https://www.10news.com/news/local-news/states-have-authority-to-fine-or-jail-people-who-refuse-coronavirus-vaccine-attorney-says
“45% of Unvaccinated Americans Say They Will Definitely Not Get the Vaccine,” VOA News, July 24, 2021, https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/45-unvaccinated-americans-say-they-will-definitely-not-get-vaccine
The impetus for this musing was an article sent to me titled “Checks and Balance: Lessons from Little Rock,” in the Economist, July 30, 2021, by Tamara Gilkes Borr. The article addresses why many Americans are vaccine hesitant, and she attempts to answers that question by asking individuals in Little Rock why they are unvaccinated. She recorded the following responses:
“They rushed it through so fast.”
“I didn’t like the way it was being pushed.”
“…dragging his feet.”·
“Scared about…getting the jab.”
“…potentially getting sick from the vaccine.”
From the replies she received, she drew the following conclusions as to why people are unvaccinated:
Lack… “access to the information…that help us to make the right decisions….”
“…mistrust sown about the vaccine by conservative politicians and media pundits….”
“…some have suffered side effects….”
“After failing for generations to provide many of its citizens with good education and health care, America is facing the consequences.”
The author of this Economist article, Ms. Gilkes Borr, is an educated woman who began working at the Economist in Jan 2021. Prior to that:
· She earned bachelor degrees in Sociology and Journalism from New York University, 2004-2008.
· Earned a Master’s degree in Education from City University of New York-Lehman College.
· Worked as a Science teacher for Teach for America corps in the South Bronx, Sep 2008-Jun 2010.
· Taught sixth and seventh grade science in a New York City public school, Aug 2010-Jul 2013 where she was also a 2012 School Reform Blogging Fellow.
· She earned a Master’s degree in Sociology and a PhD in Education Jun 2013-Jul 2019 at Stanford University.
· While doing that, she served as an education policy advisor for California Attorney General Kamala Harris from Nov 2015-Jul 2016 and one month for the Kamala Harris For the People project.
· After her PhD, she became a management consultant focused on Public Sector and Social Impact projects at the Boston Consulting Group, Jul 2019-Jan 2021, before joining the Economist. Whew!
The purpose of her article is to inform her readers why some individuals remain unvaccinated and to chide local, state, and national leadership for failing to provide adequate information about the vaccines. Her message should resonate well with the Economist’s left-of-center audience―Quote: “…a truly progressive audience around the globe…They tend to be forward-facing, keenly interested in events abroad, interested in the impact of technology on the world, are career-driven, ethical and like a challenge.” End quote
Since African American and Hispanics are the demographics with the lowest vaccination rate in the U.S., she should have included their specific reasons for not getting vaccinated as well as reasons why the vast majority of central American migrants are not vaccinated despite the availability of vaccines in their home countries.
According to the Congressional Research Service, “Latin America and the Caribbean: Impact of COVID-19”, August 4, 2021, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/IF11581.pdf,
El Salvador has vaccinated 24.01% of the population, Guatemala 2.08%, and Honduras 3.23%. Guatemala with a population of 18 million has received vaccines from Israel, India, Russia, and the U.S.
The Economist article should also have mentioned the following two reasons that people are choosing not to get vaccinated:
· Religious exemption
· Medical exemptions
As reported in https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8205255/
Quote: Many persons with religious convictions report hesitancy about COVID-19 vaccines. A Pew Research Survey conducted in February 2021 found that 36% of Protestants and 22% of Catholics are unwilling to be vaccinated; subgroup analyses found that 45% of white evangelicals and 33% of black Protestants are unwilling. Although many reasons underlie this hesitancy, one area of reported concerns is that receiving such vaccines implicates the recipient with cooperation with abortion. End quote
NIH also noted that, Quote: Cell lines developed from past abortions are used in the testing or development of certain COVID-19 vaccines. The HEK 293 cell line was developed in Holland in the early 1970s from embryonal kidney tissue….The PER.C6 cell line was developed in 1995 from retinal tissue from an abortion in 1985. End quote
NIH added that, Quote: The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine…is developed in the HEK 293 cell line and the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine…is developed in the PER.C6 cell line; however, the final products do not contain fetal cells. The mRNA [Pfizer and Moderna] vaccines are not manufactured in cell lines, although testing of mRNA vaccines reportedly uses cell lines. End quote
What is a cell line and what does it have to do with abortion? According to the Lozier Institute at https://lozierinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/09.17.20-Fetal-Cell-Line-Fact-Sheet.pdf Quote: A cell taken from an aborted baby is multiplied into many cells of the same kind. These can be grown indefinitely and further multiplied, creating lines of cells that are sometimes used for science experiments. Fetal cell lines have been used to grow viruses and then create inactive viruses for vaccines. Historical fetal cell lines (WI-38 and MRC-5) derived in the 1960’s and 1970’s were used to create vaccines for diseases such as Rubella, Hepatitis A, and rabies. These and other historical cell lines (HEK293 and PER.C6) are sometimes used today in the creation of vaccines. Do COVID vaccines being developed in Operation Warp Speed use fetal cell lines? Six vaccines do not use fetal cell lines. Two vaccines do, using the historically derived fetal cell lines HEK293 and PER.C6. End Quote.
The Orthodox Church
The Russian, Greek, Romanian, Moldovan Orthodox Church, and the Georgian Orthodox Synod adhere to the ‘Social Concept’ adopted at the Sacred Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church which govern the relationship between church and state.
The relevant excerpt states, “XII. 7. The Church believes it to be definitely inadmissible to use the methods of so-called foetal therapy, in which the human foetus on various stages of its development is aborted and used in attempts to treat various diseases and to "rejuvenate" an organism. Denouncing abortion as a cardinal sin, the Church cannot find any justification for it either even if someone may possibly benefit from the destruction of a conceived human life. Contributing inevitably to ever wider spread and commercialization of abortion, this practice…presents an example of glaring immorality and is criminal.”
Despite Article XII. 7 of the Social Concept, in a surprising turnabout, the Russian Orthodox church reversed its position. “MOSCOW, July 5 (Reuters) - Russia's powerful Orthodox Church admonished people refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, calling them sinners who would have to atone for the rest of their lives, as the country reported another jump in new infections and deaths.” No allowance for conscience? Issued under duress?
Referring to vaccines, the Catholic news Agency stated: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/46701/what-connection-does-modernas-vaccine-have-to-aborted-fetal-tissue%C2%A0
Quote: They are not completely free from any connection to abortion, however, as both Pfizer and Moderna made use of a tainted cell line for one of the confirmatory lab tests of their products,” the bishops wrote, referring to the HEK-293T cell line. “There is thus a connection [to fetal tissue], but it is relatively remote,” the bishops concluded.
“The Vatican has said that researchers have a duty to avoid using cell lines derived from aborted children in vaccine production, and have an obligation to “denounce and reject publicly the original immoral act [of abortion].
“The Church has allowed the use of vaccines produced in fetal cells if no alternative exists, while stressing the importance of protesting the vaccine’s production and encouraging “vigorous efforts to promote the creation of alternatives. End Quote
Similarly, Quote: “On December 21, 2020, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), issued a statement, https://www.cacatholic.org/CCC-vaccine-moral-acceptability, …it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to take vaccines against COVID-19. But noted that, “If some of the faithful choose not to take the vaccine for reasons of conscience, the Vatican says those persons "must do their utmost to avoid … becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent.” End Quote
The Vatican Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith https://www.immunize.org/talking-about-vaccines/vaticandocument.htm stated in 2005, Quote:“…catholic parents are often challenged by State Courts, Health Officials, and School Administrators when they filed religious exemptions for their children to this type of vaccination.” [vaccines prepared using cell lines derived from aborted human fetuses]
Continue Quote” “The lawfulness of the use of these vaccines should not be misinterpreted as a declaration of the lawfulness of their production, marketing, and use, but is to be understood as being a passive material cooperation…such cooperation occurs in a context of moral coercion of the conscience of parents, who are forced to choose to act against their conscience or otherwise, to put the health of their children and of the population…at risk. This is an unjust alternative choice, which must be eliminated as soon as possible.” End Quote
On August 3, 2021, Variety.com reported that “Pete Parada, the drummer for the Offspring has found out the hard way that some businesses — and even bands — are drawing a hard line on requiring vaccinations to come back to work. He posted on his social media Tuesday that he’s been ousted from the group because he won’t agree to get the COVID vaccine.
Given my personal medical history and the side-effect profile of these jabs, my doctor has advised me not to get a shot at this time. I caught the virus over a year ago, it was mild for me — so I am confident I’d be able to handle it again, but I’m not so certain I’d survive another post-vaccination round of Guillain-Barré Syndrome [GBS], which dates back to my childhood and has evolved to be progressively worse over my lifetime.”
The Mayo clinic at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/guillain-barre-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20362793 stated the following:
· It's [GBS] also a rare reaction in those who receive the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
· As GBS progresses, muscle weakness can evolve into paralysis.
· The mortality rate is 4% to 7%
· From 2% to 5% of people with GBS experience a relapse.
An estimated 3,000-6,000 people develop GBS each year in the United States.
The CDC VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System)
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/adverse-events.html reports that the vaccines are safe but notes some adverse reactions:
· “Anaphylaxis after COVID-19 vaccination is rare and has occurred in approximately 2 to 5 people per million vaccinated [346 million] in the United States.”
· “Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after Johnson & Johnson…vaccination is rare. As of July 26, 2021, more than 13 million doses of the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine have been given in the United States. CDC and FDA identified 39 confirmed reports of people who got the J&J/Janssen Vaccine and later developed TTS.”
· “After more than 13 million J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine doses administered, there have been around 143 preliminary reports of GBS identified in VAERS as of July 30.”
· “Myocarditis and pericarditis: As of July 30, 2021, VAERS has received 1,249 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis among people ages 30 and younger who received COVID-19 vaccine. Most cases have been reported after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), particularly in male adolescents and young adults.”
· “More than 346 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through August 2, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 6,490 reports of death (0.0019%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.”
· “A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and TTS, a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused deaths.”
Swine Flu scare of 1976
Anyone fifty or older might recall the Swine Flu scare of 1976. According to Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1976_swine_flu_outbreak. “In [January] 1976, an outbreak of the swine flu, influenza A virus subtype H1N1 at Fort Dix, New Jersey caused one death, hospitalized 13, and led to a mass immunization program. After the program began, the vaccine was associated with an increase in reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which can cause paralysis, respiratory arrest, and death. The immunization program was ended [in December] after approximately 25% of the population [46 million] of the United States had been…vaccinate[d].” “In total, GBS cases occurred in 362 patients….”
Whether individuals decline to be vaccinated because of religious or medical reasons, the fact remains they are not vaccinated and might contribute to the spread of COVID. That said, their legitimate concerns about a possible adverse medical reaction and their qualms of conscience deserve our respect and accommodation. Since we cannot know why individuals decline to be vaccinated, grouping them together pejoratively as the “unvaccinated” and deserving of penalties is patently unfair and unworthy of this great democratic nation.