COVID-19 vaccine choice. Should vaccines be a choice or does vaccine choice put people at harm?
By Nicole Johnson
Special to www.JenniferMargulis.net
As the COVID-19 vaccines make their way to the general population, it’s important to remember that the COVID-19 vaccine, which may be a blessing for many people, may not be for everyone.
In our excitement to get back to normal, we should not rush to mandate or require COVID-19 vaccination. I believe that we should all maintain the freedom to make the best medical decisions for ourselves and our families. We need to make medical decisions based on our own individual health and risks. This is the case for any other medical treatment or intervention. Shouldn’t it also be the case for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Why wouldn’t you want a COVID-19 vaccine?
I hope you will consider some of the reasons a person might not want to get a COVID-19 vaccine. These vaccines have been fast-tracked and offered for emergency use. So we’re still learning about the short-term side effects, which include a rare and often deadly blood disorder called thrombocytopenia as well as anaphylactic shock and at least one life-threatening skin condition. We won’t know the long-term side effects for some time. We also don’t yet know if a vaccine recipient can still contract and spread the virus. And we don’t know how pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, or medically fragile people will handle the vaccine.
We also don’t know all the potentially severe side effects of the vaccine or who’s at risk for them. We do know there have been cases of anaphylaxis after receipt of the COVID19 vaccine – but we are not sure who is susceptible to this type of reaction.
No COVID-19 vaccine liability
While vaccine injury may seem rare, many people are unaware of injuries following vaccination because vaccine manufacturers are exempt from liability for injuries. This means you can’t sue them. There is no discovery. And documents and settlement awards from these proceedings are private and often not disclosed to the public.
Few Americans are familiar with our National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. This program has paid out $4.5 billion to date for injuries from vaccines. NVICP, however, does not encompass the COVID-19 vaccines. But you still cannot sue the makers of COVID-19 vaccines in court. Why not? Because these “emergency use” vaccines are covered under the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program, which is another relatively unknown government program that rarely makes awards and limits payments to injured parties. So if there’s a hot lot of a COVID-19 vaccine, if there’s a fault in the manufacturing process, or an ingredient that is causing harm, it doesn’t matter. Vaccine makers will not be liable for any injuries from COVID19 vaccines. If the vaccine causes you or a loved one harm, compensation from the government is extremely unlikely.
VAERS and COVID-19 vaccine choice
Vaccine injuries are tracked by a public health surveillance system called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The CDC and the FDA co-manage VAERS. VAERS is a passive reporting system: it relies on individuals and healthcare workers to report their experiences. The system is designed to alert the CDC and the FDA to any unusual patterns of adverse events. As of January 29, there have been over 11,000 reports of adverse events from COVID-19 vaccines, including 501 deaths. Other adverse events include reports of headache, high fevers, nausea, pain in extremities, and tremors.
For many healthy people, children in particular, COVID-19 is extremely mild. Individuals should always have the right to weigh the risks and benefits of a medical intervention, especially with a fast-tracked, highly experimental vaccine.
I hope that we can be tolerant and understanding of others who may have different risks or concerns. Each of us must make the COVID-19 vaccine choice for ourselves or our families without discrimination or judgment from others.
Nicole Johnson is a graduate of the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism. She earned her law degree from Samford University and worked as an attorney for ten years. Married to a doctor and the mother of two, she enjoys writing, trail running, and farm photography.