The last time I had a conversation with an anti-vaxxer, she explained, as if it was obvious, that they had deliberately released Covid-19 in America as a weapon to take away our God-given rights. “Who is ‘they’?” I asked. “The bankers,” she replied, with a look that said, “Duh!” Obvious, as I say. I told her she was nuts.

Bad move on my part. No better way to activate someone’s cognitive dissonance* than insulting their intelligence, meaning that my subsequent attempt at countering her wacko beliefs with data didn’t help at all. I probably only convinced her even more solidly that she was right. I doubt anything I could have said would have shifted her point of view.

* Cognitive dissonance = the state of discomfort felt when two or more modes of thought contradict each other.

But there are folks out there, not so much anti-vaxxers as hesitant-vaxxers, who might be more open to some facts and figures. This is for them, taking a look at some of the objections to vaccination that I’ve heard.

(And if all else fails, #45 recently promoted getting vaccinated — to boos from his audience! Wonder if that will change the minds of the 50 percent of Republicans who hadn’t, as of June, gotten vaccinated – compared to 20 percent of Democrats?) (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation.)

Covid isn’t that dangerous

Do you drive? Then consider than you have a ten-times better chance of dying from Covid than from a car crash:

Number of people who died in automobile accidents in the US in 2020: 38,680

Number of people who died from Covid-19 in the US in 2020: 345,000 (conservatively)

The vaccine can cause an anaphylactic reaction

Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to something you’re allergic to, such as peanuts or bee stings. You go into shock, your blood pressure drops, you can’t breathe, and you may die. That’s why you’re told to wait for 15 minutes after getting vaccinated — the staff has epinephrine/adrenaline on hand as an antidote.

Rate of anaphylactic reaction from the vaccines: 2 per million

(The “Moderna thrombosis” risk is even smaller: 2 cases out of over 300 million shots.)

There might be long-term effects from the vaccine

The vaccine puts the virus into my body

mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) are completely different from previous vaccines which use weakened or inactivated versions of whatever it is they’re guarding against. These new vaccines (which can be designed and manufactured much faster and cheaper than the older ones) teach a cell to make a protein, or a piece of protein, that the cell then displays on its surface. No virus! When your immune system figures out that it doesn’t belong there, it starts making antibodies that are effective against the Covid virus.

Various types of vaccines to counter Covid-19, with over 200 vaccines under development as of this time a year ago, loosely grouped into protein, inactivated, VLP, viral vector, mRNA, self-amplifying RNA, DNA and live attenuated vaccines. Moderna and Pfizer — the usual vaccines given here in Humboldt — are mRNA type. Graphic: Tregoning et al,, via Wikimedia. Creative Commons license.

The vaccine isn’t 100% effective

No vaccine is — human bodies are complicated! — and a couple of weeks ago a fully vaccinated person died from Covid here in Humboldt. But it’s pretty good: There’s a 99.999% probability that you will not be hospitalized or die from Covid if you’ve had both your shots.

Sixth, it’s a violation of civil rights to force kids to get vaccinated

No one’s forcing. Unless, that is, you want your kids to get an education. Every school district in every state requires children to be vaccinated to attend public schools. (Supreme Court case, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 1905.)

Still not convinced? I give up. All I’m left with is this: the life you save may not be your own; it could be that of a loved one. Just get the frigging vaccine.