The Need to Be Vaccinated Against Covid

Frequent commenter Professor of  Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Joel Eissenberg discusses history of vaccinations and the need to be vaccinated.

Why everyone needs to get vaccinated.

Infectious diseases beset all living things, even bacteria. In the past ten thousand years of human history, there have been epidemics and pandemics of plague, smallpox, yellow fever, cholera and other diseases, with millions of deaths. Herd immunity was achieved by natural infection at the cost of many deaths, and was only temporary: when the next generation appeared, it lacked immunity, setting the stage for the next epidemic.

When Europeans arrived in the Americas, they brought infectious disease to which they had herd immunity but the natives lacked (measles, smallpox). This devastated the indigenous people as much or more than war or starvation.

Infectious disease has been around for thousands of years. Our understanding of infectious disease epidemiology is much younger. Most vaccines are less than 100 years old.

Vaccines are a way of bypassing natural infection and risk of death or disability to achieve immunity, and ultimately herd immunity. Polio was a scourge in America in the first half of the 20th century, and few Americans didn’t know someone who had been infected. Joni Mitchell is a polio survivor, as is Mia Farrow. Now, thanks to vaccination, polio is virtually unheard of in the US and nobody has to risk infection to achieve immunity.

With the COVID-19 vaccines, as with other vaccines (measles, mumps, polio), walking around in public without being vaccinated (when you have the choice) is like driving without stopping at red lights and/or ignoring speed limits: you increase your risk of bodily harm and you increase the risk to others by your reckless and selfish behavior. If you fail to get vaccinated, you increase your risk of infection (bodily harm). You also increase the risk to others (transmission during infection, hosting a new and more dangerous variant) by your reckless and selfish behavior. 

In a time of pandemic, you do not enjoy the “liberty” of risking the lives of others while practicing your liberty. You have the responsibility to be vaccinated to protect yourself and those around you.  

“On February 20, 1905, the Supreme Court in a  7-2 majority, ruled in Jacobson v. Massachusetts: the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts could fine residents who refused to receive smallpox injections.” On this day, the Supreme Court ruled on vaccines and public health