Vaccine mandates – right or wrong?

Published December 7, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Raymundo W. Lo, MD, FPSP


Dr. Raymundo Lo

A recent full page advertisement in a broadsheet argued against forced vaccinations, supposedly from a group called “COVID Call to Humanity.” Let’s examine vaccine mandates and what and how they are done. It is one thing to legislate mandatory vaccinations for all regardless of status. It is another to issue guidelines that allow vaccinated people access to certain services which unvaccinated persons cannot avail of unless they have present a negative COVID test.

Mandatory vaccinations require legislation. No lawmaker in his/her right mind will force through a law that violates freedom of choice. Yet that is something some in the current administration is mulling on doing. We have every reason to oppose this as an abridgement of our civil rights. Do I oppose it? You bet I do.

However, other vaccine guidelines that gives more access to the vaccinated to non-essential services are a necessity in a pandemic era, wherein we are faced with a public health emergency of unparalleled proportions. With the need to open up the economy shut down for more than a year due to COVID-19, it is sensible to proceed with steps that present less dangers of virus spread, and vaccination is clearly the way to go.

Does it take away freedom of choice? No. You still have a choice to get vaccinated or not. But with freedom of choice comes the consequences of our decisions. We should not have to subject others to danger should you choose not to get vaccinated, as data has shown that vaccinated people are less likely to get infected and therefore, less likely to pass on the disease to a more susceptible person who may end up with severe disease, get hospitalized and die.

You may still go to non-essential places of your choice though you have to get tested and be negative for COVID-19. It will be at your expense though. That is a consequence of your choice to not get vaccinated.

But you say, why should I get a vaccine that was manufactured quickly and is still under Emergency Use Authorization? Let’s get our facts straight. The COVID-19 vaccines were made using traditional (inactivated virus and viral vector vaccines) as well as more recent mRNA technology which have been well researched. They were subjected to the most extensive clinical trials with millions of volunteers and were found to be efficacious and safe. No other vaccine in history had more extensive and intensive trials than this one.

When we say these vaccines are safe, we don’t mean they are free of side effects. Most side effects are mild like fever, body aches and a feeling of malaise but they simply mean your immune system is working to protect you against the virus by reacting to the vaccine components that are made of dead virus, fragments ofvirus or genetic information. These are very fleeting, maybe lasting a day or two. But that’s not too bad considering if you get infected without being vaccinated, you may again end up with severe disease, spend weeks in the hospital incurring millions in hospital bill, or end up dying anyway.

Are there risks to being vaccinated? Sure. Nothing we do in life is without risks. Crossing the street has the risk of getting ran over by a vehicle, but if we look before we walk, we are assuring ourselves we will not get into an accident. Same is true of getting a jab, though the lookouts this time are the clinical trials.

What if a car suddenly speeds from somewhere, or a tree branch falls on you while crossing the street? Well, these are unforeseeable circumstances. The same is true of vaccines. We all have different genetic makeups and very few may be genetically prone to his/her immune system reacting the wrong way to any insult that comes along including vaccines. How often does this happen? Very very rarely. Since vaccines were invented, there have been very few serious events or deaths compared to the millions of lives saved. Again, benefits well outweigh the risks.

Should we get worried this will happen to us? We make choices in life and our decisions will impact our lives, right or wrong. We always have to weigh the benefits versus the risks of what we do.

Some of us do have serious health issues that may preclude getting vaccinated. Your doctor can help you make the right choice. If you do have a valid reason not get vaccinated, the presence of a large majority of vaccinated persons in the community will protect you as a result of herd immunity which is achieved when a large majority of people are vaccinated.

The choice is yours. Get vaccinated, reduce your risks of dying from COVID-19 and enjoy a more normal lifestyle, or don’t get vaccinated but live with the consequences of your action. Simple as that.

Now, with regard to this “COVID Call to Humanity” saying they are not antivaxxers. A visit to their website belies that statement. Here are some pronouncements: “Why Vaccines are Deadly,” “Vaccines are not Effective,” etc. I leave it to the reader to draw your own conclusions.