Assessing Your Risk of the COVID-19 Vaccine
A friend of mine who is a Human Resource professional recently quipped, “When I asked that quintessential question to prospective employees 5 years ago: ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ NO ONE got that right!”
She of course was referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, but she could have just as well been referring to the impact of social media and questionable information sources on our decision-making processes.
Let’s begin to assess your risk by giving some serious thought to HOW you might come to an informed conclusion. There is so much information out there and we all know it is not all from dependable sources. And since this decision is potentially a life or death decision for you and your family, not to mention the entire community, it is worth taking a minute to think this through.
I am a mental health care professional, a Registered Psychotherapist. I have some basic training in sciences and medicine, but nothing beyond a few undergraduate courses. I am NOT the guy to be giving out medical or scientific advice. I have simply not invested enough education, time, and experience in learning about these things to be considered a dependable information source from a scientific or medical viewpoint. It was not my calling to help others in this fashion, so I chose a different career trajectory.
What I do know a lot about is human nature, how we think, and how we can mature to be the people we aspire to be. I count among my patients and clients a number of people way smarter than me in a ton of fields! I have medical doctors, rocket engineers, scientists, therapists, CEO’s and philosophers who pay me to help sort out how they think, and work with me to become better people – better at what they do both as a person, and a professional. Likewise, I count many of these types of professionals as friends and family. It is all quite humbling.
The one thing I do know with certainty is that none of these medical and healthcare experts are in it to harm others. In fact, without exception, every one of the hundreds of people to whom I am referring either choose their career because they had a real passion for the material or a real passion to help others. In almost every case, they chose their career for both these reasons.
Who I DO NOT have among the rank of my hundreds of patients and clients over the years is politicians. I make this point not to disparage politicians or their opinions, but to simply be clear that I cannot speak to anyone’s motivation for becoming a politician. The politicians to whom I do see as providing dependable advice are the ones who are smart enough to formulate policies based on the opinions of experts in their relative fields, and not on political or financial motivations. I’m not taking advice on matters of the science of medicine from a politician.
In short, I try my best to be honest with myself, acknowledge what I don’t know, and be humble enough and wise enough to take advice from those I do trust to understand what I am not trained to understand. This is how I make good decisions.
In matters of science and medicine, I choose to listen to scientists and doctors. But I am even fussier than that. When I want my cancer cured I listen to an oncologist, and if for some reason I find myself on more than one medication or even vitamin supplement – I ask my pharmacist, “Is it safe and wise to do so?” I trust them because they are trustworthy, and THAT I am smart enough to figure out.
So, will I take this vaccine?
If you are like me, you have a few questions you want answered to allow you to make a wise and informed decision.
I reached out to the best brains I could find, virologists, infectious disease specialists, public health doctors, and biostatisticians. As I was asking my questions, I stumbled upon an area of science I had never much inquired about before – zoonotic diseases! (Zoonotic Diseases are diseases (and viruses) that are shared between animals and people. There are quite a few beyond COVID-19, including Rabies, Lyme disease, Salmonellosis, and the Plague.)
Here are some of the answers I received:
1. This vaccine was developed so fast, is that reason to worry?
The global urgency to save lives resulted in billions of dollars and tens of thousands of scientists working on this all at once. The lag in creating other breakthroughs is almost always about money and resources.
Think about it this way – if you have to build a house and have just your hands and a limited budget, it is going to take a long time. If you have unlimited money and put on site dozens of the best engineers and builders in the world and then hire as many construction workers that can safely fit on the building site at one time – that puppy is going up in a matter of days!
2. Well, wait, if it was that fast what about proper testing?
The vaccine when through all the normal testing protocols and where they may have been escalated it was done under the watchful eyes of our diligent scientists and doctors. Besides which, statisticians, like accountants, are sticklers for the numbers! They would never sign off if the numbers did not add up!
Over 77 thousand people trialed this vaccine before it was approved for general human distribution.
3. Isn’t this particular vaccine technology new? Maybe it could give me COVID?
No, there is no live or complete COVID-19 virus in the vaccine. It cannot give you COVID.
The mRNA technology used to make this vaccine has been around for some time in various applications. It just teaches your body what this virus looks like so should you be infected; it knows how to fight it off.
4. But I heard about someone who got really sick after taking this vaccine, shouldn’t I worry?
Again, trust those numbers guys!
In statistics there is something called ‘outliers.’ These are numbers, or in this case incidents, that lay so far out of the norm they are not worthy of consideration. It’s like never going outside because someone once got hit by lightning. It happens, but it is no reason to never leave your house!
People with agendas, usually around politics, power, and money often use outliners as an example to scare people. Unlike our scientists and doctors, their motivations are nefarious. Don’t be duped. Trust the nerdy guys crushing the numbers. They rather have a root canal than let you think an outlier was a good basis for a rational decision!
As I write John Hopkins University Medical Centre just announced we have hit the grim global milestone of 2 million deaths from Covid-19. The Centre for Disease Control in the USA reports almost 23 million cases and 383,351 deaths. (And the USA is nowhere near having tested the entire population.
The number of dead in North America is equivalent to
3 Commerical Jetliners CRASHING EVERY DAY since January 2020.
There is simply no question that this virus is dangerous and our best hope to survive is a vaccine. And if you are still wondering if you should take this vaccine, I invite you to be smart enough to know what you don’t know, and wise enough to trust those scientists and doctors that created and approved it.
I trust these answers to the questions I asked are enough to convince you to protect yourself and others by taking this vaccine. If not, get your questions answered by the experts we can trust, not from ‘Dr. Karen Facebook MD!’ (Sorry to all the Karen’s out there!).
If for any reason you don’t feel you can access professionals you can trust, ask me. I will do the leg work for you. I’ve got your back. It’s not just my job, it’s the kind of man this old guy chooses to be. Post a question, email me, book an appointment, whatever – I’m here for you.
So, am I going to take this vaccine? Yes. And I am doing so because it is the smart thing to do and the kindest thing to do, for all of us.
“Fear is a very natural response,” said Kaufman, who specializes in treating anxiety disorders at his Toronto-based clinic.
It’s not uncommon that a new patient will meet with me for the first time and feel completely overwhelmed.
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