There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines in groups that have objected for a variety of reasons. Some have bought into conspiracy theories, while others have been skeptical about the fast production of the vaccines and their safety. There are still others that have made the choice to not get the vaccines based on religious beliefs or fear. Science has shown that there is a requirement for a large percentage of people to be vaccinated against a virus to achieve the “threshold” to keep it from spreading. While initially there were larger numbers of people stating that they would refuse the COVID-19 vaccines, those numbers are now a lot less, and this is good news.
What Has Changed?
The initial onslaught of COVID-19 took months to come to fruition for the general public. Once most of the rest of the world was reporting that we indeed had a pandemic there were some that chose paths that were designed to undermine the message. Some countries, including the U.S., politicized COVID-19 to include everything from misinformation and denial to conspiracy theories. Even as hospitals were filling up with pandemic patients and the death toll kept increasing, this same segment refused to acknowledge that COVID-19 existed at all. Still others were intent on trying to convince everyone that “herd immunity” would take care of the pandemic naturally. And while that is indeed the case, history has shown us that this form of herd immunity in past pandemics resulted in the deaths of everywhere from ¼ to 50% of the population. Scientists and the medical community were combating COVID-19 on two fronts: those getting infected and those believing misinformation. During this time period the death tolls continue to increase and to add to the confusion, some U.S. states were skewing the reports of deaths and pandemic infections to show less than what was really occurring. The average individual was having a lot problems piercing the bubble of misinformation, making them less likely to agree to any vaccine. As pharmaceutical companies continued to press on, finally releasing vaccines, the percentage of those interested in getting them gradually began to increase. Reports from other countries regarding vaccine success contributed to the adoption of more agreeing to take the vaccine. Additional vaccine educational information has seemed to have some help. The information and data being released on the new methods of vaccine development as well as how each vaccine functions with the body has given credence to assist in lifting the mystery and misinformation. Additional work has been done with the help of community leaders and even celebrities to encourage people of color as well as medically under-served communities to educate and encourage getting vaccines.
Achieving Vaccine Success
To achieve vaccine herd immunity a large percentage of a population must be immunized. The smaller the number that reject vaccines the greater the ability to fight COVID-19. A KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor survey of U.S. adults over a 3-month period in Feb. 2021 showed that 57% of adults in the survey indicated that they had received at least one vaccine dose or had plans to be vaccinated as soon as it was available to them. Those that had stated that they wanted to wait-and-see had been shrinking on a continual basis and the survey listed them at a change from 39% down to 22%. Those indicating that they didn’t want a vaccination was down to 15%, with another 7% indicating they would only get a vaccine if it was a work requirement.
COVID-19 Survivor Health Problems
Another issue that may be pushing the success of vaccines are some of the latest research regarding long term health problems for those that have survived COVID-19. As with any pandemic virus the medical community needs to be able to examine long term effects and causes that happen from the virus. Scientists have been following those that have had COVID-19 and then survived to now report that survivors may end up with lifelong health problems. Various studies are showing organ damage in groups of all ages. Most recently, a study published in the European Heart Journal involving 148 patients showed that 50% of the patients had elevated troponin levels which is indicative of lasting heart damage, including infarction, myocarditis, ischemia, and a combination of all three. Additional problems for COVID-19 survivors are the long-term health problems with lungs creating lifelong breathing problems and in the brain. Patients of all ages that experienced COVID-19 have had conditions showing up that can cause seizures, strokes, and Guillain-Barre syndrome that causes temporary paralysis. These patients have an increased risk of developing both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The COVID-19 virus can create a situation where blood cells are more likely to form clots by clumping up. Blood clots can affect the liver, legs, kidneys, and lungs. Blood vessels are weakened by COVID-19 and this can allow them to leak, creating kidney and liver problems.Given everything that science is learning about COVID-19 it is good news to see that there are fewer that are rejecting the vaccines.