To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?

Ciara Myers

Over the last several months, the entire world has been shut down in response to the global pandemic. In addition, scientists and medical professionals have been working to develop safe and effective vaccines to combat the easily transmitted Covid-19 virus. Within December 2020, two vaccines were authorized for emergency use in the United States: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The Pfizer vaccine has proven to be 95% effective, while the Moderna was 94.1% effective. Both vaccines require two doses spread out over a 3-4 week period and have demonstrated mild side effects that signify the immune system kicking into gear.

The side effects and speed of the vaccine development has caused many Americans to wonder if they should take it. The stakes in this debate have also risen to new levels since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency responsible for enforcing laws to combat worker discrimination, has said that employers can require their employees to take the vaccine with certain limits. Religious beliefs are one of those limits as illustrated in Title VII, meaning that if a person has “legitimate” religious beliefs that bar them from taking the vaccine, then legally they can not be forced to do so. The other limit is for people with disabilities, which are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act. This means that employers have to allow for accommodations to be made for people with disabilities if taking the vaccine poses a risk to their already endangered health.

To further understand why people are hesitant to take the vaccine, I interviewed three healthcare professionals who had different opinions on the vaccine. The first person I interviewed was Debra Anderson, who has been a registered nurse for over 30 years, and she said she would not take the vaccine unless she was required to maintain employment. She felt that there are too many unknown variables, including long term side effects, for her to feel safe taking it. The historic racism in vaccinations in this country played a big part in her decision as well. The next person I interviewed was my mother, Davetta Myers, a licensed practical nurse for 28 years, and she stated that she has mixed feelings about the vaccine. This is because of the quick timeliness it took to develop the vaccine and the possible side effects and/or outcome of it. When she goes to work and witnesses the increasing amount of cases, it causes her to feel nervous about the safety of our family. She has decided to “wait a couple of months to see how everything plays out.” The final person I interviewed was Elaine Pridgen, a rehabilitation therapist for 29 years, and she stated that she “will take it but will wait until after more statistics of other people come out.” Similar to the other interviewees, she felt that the speed of the vaccine development process and that the racism used during the vaccination process caused doubt of the safety of the vaccine.

To sum it up, this debate will be had within a lot of households across the country and the world as more vaccines get approved and are available for public consumption. There are many reasons people doubt the vaccine as previously mentioned and there are important reasons why people should take it. The question each person and family must ask themselves is, “do the negatives outweigh the possible benefits one would have if they took the vaccine?”