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Tuesday, November 30, 2021
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The heated debate on vaccinations in recent Link issues is a testament to the emotions surrounding this issue. As a career scientist I would like to weigh in on this issue from a scientific, not emotional, standpoint.

From everything I’ve seen in the last two years on the COVID vaccine, the test and field data show that it has been outstandingly effective in containing the spread of the virus. Test data consistently show the vaccines to be at least 90% effective in preventing infections. (This, for example, compares with the roughly 40% effectiveness of yearly flu shots, and which most people accept without hesitation.) In field experience early on during the pandemic, before vaccines became available, there were explosive outbreaks in America and around the world, with great loss of life, overcrowded hospitals, ventilator shortages, horrific loss of thousands of lives in quarantined nursing homes and cruise liners and in underdeveloped countries with poor medical facilities.

In response to the pandemic, besides vaccine programs, entire communities and countries have been shut down or subjected to a haphazard and confusing patchwork of mask wearing, social distancing mandates, closing of mass attendance venues, and the vain search for herd immunity. The net result was that global commerce was severely disrupted, causing untold economic hardships and deaths due to reduced routine medical care, not just the COVID infections.

With the miraculous development of vaccines in record time, COVID infection rates, and, more importantly, morbidity, has been markedly reduced, at least in the more developed nations where they have more proportionally been distributed. As reported in The Wall Street Journal “COVID mortality has been increasing fastest in poor nations and in regions with the lowest vaccination rates.” Again, this attests to the effectiveness of the vaccines, where they have been made available.

Focusing on the willingness to take the vaccine, which is the main point of this letter, some people have opted out of getting vaccinated for various reasons. These include medical, religious, philosophical, political, egotistical, fear, anecdotal evidence and the lack of absolute guarantees against any possible problems, which is of course, impossible.

What they have to do is make a choice between the protection afforded by the vaccine, not only to themselves, but to their family, friends, neighbors and community, versus the risk of staying unvaccinated and contracting and passing along the virus to those around you.

In summary, the choice of getting vaccinated is as much an ethical issue as a medical or scientific issue.

Max Wisotsky
Highland Park
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