19 April 2021
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To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

Dr Ross Walker
5 March 2021

A recent article in the excellent medical website, “Medical News Today” examined many of the myths around the COVID-19 vaccine and I thought I would summarise this article as I believe the topic is so important.

The anti-VAXXERS had a field day when two elderly people in Queensland were given four times the dose of the Pfizer vaccine during the initial week of the Australian vaccination program. But, this unfortunate mistake has actually backfired in the face of the anti-VAXXERS because despite these people administered such a big dose of the vaccine and being in the very elderly group, neither had a bad reaction and almost certainly now have good immunity to COVID-19. In my view, even more evidence supporting the safety of vaccines. 

Let’s examine some of the clear myths about vaccination detailed in the Medical News Today report.

  1. The COVID-19 vaccine is not safe because it has been developed so fast. This is not true because there has been research into coronaviruses for a number of years especially since the SARS and MERS outbreaks. Many of the technologies around the current vaccine have stemmed from this research. Secondly, because this has been a worldwide pandemic, there has been enormous co-operation from governments and scientific bodies around the world, with a marked increase in funding to bring the vaccine to fruition quickly. Thirdly, typically in vaccine trials there is a shortage of volunteers but because of the major effect of this pandemic around the world they have been hundreds of thousands of people volunteering for the vaccine trials. Fourthly, because of marked improvement in technologies over the past few decades, there has been rapid genome sequencing of SARS-COV2 & thus more accurate and effective vaccines have been able to be developed much quicker.
  2. Following on from the genetic advances, there has been some nonsense spread about the potential for the RNA vaccines to affect DNA. The reality is that the RNA vaccine will not even reach the nucleus to potentially have any effect on DNA.
  3. The old chestnut that vaccines can give you the virus is not true. There is no live virus in the vaccination and although you may have a reaction to the vaccine such as headaches, fever and chills for a few days you can certainly not get the virus.
  4. This vaccine and no other vaccines contain any foetal tissue which is another myth perpetrated by the anti-VAXXERS along with some suggestion the COVID-19 vaccine may cause infertility. This is certainly not the case but interestingly there have been reported cases of infertility linked to COVID-19 infection.
  5. Another good myth is if you've had COVID-19, you don't need to be vaccinated. Yes, you are possibly covered but reinfection is possible in a small amount of cases and it's better to have the booster vaccination.
  6. The vaccine is NOT suitable for people with pre-existing conditions and immunocompromised. This myth suggesting that vaccines should be avoided in the sickest of the sick is complete nonsense. In fact, it is the most vulnerable that benefit the most from vaccination.

Finally, what I thought was the most bizarre was that the vaccine contains a microchip put there by the “evil Bill Gates”. If you believe these sort of wacko conspiracy theories regarding the man who has gifted much of his fortune to improving the health of people in the third world, you seriously need to look at your intellect and the source of your information. The sort of technology suggested could not possibly fit through a needle in the first place, if indeed this technology was available.

The reality is that vaccination was the greatest health innovation of last century and continues to be our major hope for life returning to normal once the COVID-19 pandemic has been controlled. Already we are seeing the rates of COVID-19 dropping in countries where the vaccination programs have been heavily rolled out. In Israel, where the vast majority of the adult population is now vaccinated, the case rates are dropping like flies.

There will always be people who are anti-VAXXERS and even more people who are “vaccine hesitant”. In many cases people are just scared of having needles. What all of you need to understand is that you will be having many more needles and need much more medical attention if you get the severe version of COVID-19. So, having a small scratch on your arm to prevent a virus that has brought the world to its knees is a small price to pay so we can all get our lives back to normal.

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