Most In CT Will Get Coronavirus Vaccine, But Many Have Concerns

Eufemia Didonato

CONNECTICUT — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine any day now, followed closely by approval of the Moderna vaccine. States and municipalities have spent the past few weeks lining up their logistical ducks to be able to get those vaccines into the arms […]

CONNECTICUT — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine any day now, followed closely by approval of the Moderna vaccine. States and municipalities have spent the past few weeks lining up their logistical ducks to be able to get those vaccines into the arms of residents who want them. Based on an informal survey of Patch readers in Connecticut, that’s more than 63 percent of your neighbors.

Since it was first posted Sunday, 2,925 readers responded to the online survey. While not a scientific poll, the survey presents a broad idea of public sentiment regarding the vaccine.

Most respondents are generally trusting of vaccines, with over 89 percent saying they believe in vaccination and most of those readers saying they keep their own vaccinations up to date.

That was about in line with the percentage of people who have gotten or plan to get their flu vaccine this year — about 82 percent. Just a smidge over 1 percent of those surveyed said they did “not believe in vaccination at all.” Based on this survey, there is not a lot of out-and-out “anti-vax” sentiment among Connecticut Patch readers.

However, a smaller percentage of those surveyed were completely on board with the coronavirus vaccine. Just over 63 percent said they would be rolling up their sleeves as soon as it becomes available. Another 23 percent said they’d accept the medicine after giving it some time and “it’s been in use long enough to make sure it’s safe and effective.” But over 11 percent responded they had no intention to get the coronavirus vaccine.

Why the disconnect? For some, it came down to the coronavirus vaccine’s speed to market:

“It takes, on average, 10 years for a vaccine to be ready for human use. This is in order to establish effectiveness AND SAFETY. Trust a vaccine created in 10 MONTHS?! No way. I won’t be a guinea pig to a rushed vaccine injected into my body, nor will I have my children be. They haven’t even tested on children as young as mine. Who knows what negative effects this could have on a body, and if it could lead to lifelong problems,” one respondent commented.

“Regarding choosing to get the vaccination, I am NOT an anti-vaxxer. It seems that many people are lumping together all people who are weary about the vaccine with those who are anti-vaccination and anti-science. As a senior nursing student, my appreciation for the scientific process and statistical data has only grown. As such, I know that it’s naive to think that a vaccine that is the first of its kind (mRNA) and approved the fastest in the history of vaccinations is 100% safe. I simply don’t know enough about the long-term risks of this vaccine to feel completely safe taking it. This is not “”anti-vax”” – this is simply logic. The same logic that compels me to take vaccines that have been proven safe is the same logic that makes me hesitate to take a vaccine that has no information regarding long-term adverse effects,” another reader said.

Although over 24 percent of those who responded believed “the process was rushed,” more than twice that number held up the success of Operation Warp Speed as “a great example of how science and government can work together for the public good.”

Roll up your sleeve or get out of the way, was the arguably harsh sentiment shared by one reader:

“I want to get the vaccine as soon as possible and if there are people who don’t want it then those of us willing to take it can move up on the list. Darwin gave us a theory called ‘natural selection.’ Natural selection keeps alive those who are most likely to propagate a healthy population. Persons who do not believe in science are probably not the best species to continue. If persons do not take a vaccine offered to them for free to preserve themselves then they suffer the consequences. It is mean but true.”

For others, getting the vaccine quickly means a speedy return to a cherished normalcy: “I will be in line for the first vaccination in the over 65 category because I have not seen my daughter and granddaughters, who live in Oregon, for one year now and you can’t feel the warmth of a hug over FaceTime.”

Sore points among even the fervently pro-coronavirus vaccine respondents centered on children and the specter of mandatory vaccination. Gov. Ned Lamont has stated on numerous occasions that the coronavirus vaccination would not be required in his state. Those assurances have not satisfied many who responded to the survey:

“I do feel that a safe and effective vaccine is necessary to help eliminate the COVID-19 virus. However, I do not agree that any American citizen should be mandated to take it. We should have the right to choose what we want or not want to inject in our bodies and in our children’s bodies,” one respondent said.

Another reader was less nuanced: “Mandatory vaccination is bad, very bad, evil, public policy.”

Still, the epidemiology math supports a faster resolution to the pandemic with the more citizens who are vaccinated. For some readers, that’s enough to warrant we all get vaccinated, and keep our vaccination papers handy:

“I think it should be mandatory that every American should have to be vaccinated and you shouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere without proof of being vaccinated.”

Another commented: “The coronavirus vaccine should be mandatory. People who refuse the vaccine are the problem and will end up making it mandatory for the rest of us. Even if it isn’t mandatory at first, it will end up becoming mandatory, whether you like it or not, because of your stupid actions.”

Over 45 percent of the readers surveyed said that coronavirus vaccination should be required for all children attending public schools. Slightly over 41 percent believe some limited exceptions may be allowed. Less than 14 percent believe the vaccine should be given at the sole discretion of the parents.

Whether of their own volition or dragged kicking and screaming, it’s become easier for children to get the vaccine in Connecticut. Licensed pharmacists will be able to administer any federally approved coronavirus vaccines after Lamont recently signed an executive order. Pharmacists will also be allowed to administer flu vaccines to children between the ages of 10 and 17. Normally, pharmacists in Connecticut can only administer the flu vaccine to adults.

After being among COVID-19’s first U.S. whipping boys in the spring, Connecticut had enjoyed a period of relative virus stability in the summer and early fall. Now, all bets are off as the state has moved to the middle of the pack, with the 31st highest rate of new coronavirus cases in the country and 32nd for test positivity rate.

Although Connecticut is poised to move on to this next and presumably final phase of the pandemic, many still have not moved past the anger and frustration that saw battle lines drawn between neighbors since the spring. For some, the Trump administration’s involvement in Operation Warp Speed caused them to take a more (14.1 percent) or less (36.9 percent) favorable view of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines:

Some readers believed the president was responsible for Operation Warp Speed’s speed: “Thank you President Trump for bringing government, science and industry together to solve this worldwide problem so quickly.”

Others had a dimmer view: “Operation Warp Speed, if totally successful, has NOTHING to do with any government support, especially from Trump. The 3 most critical factors that enabled it to succeed: Opportunity (a pandemic), profit and private sector capitalism, aided by science. If anything, the Trump government almost torpedoed it.”

The president was not the only politician readers had on the hook:

“Gov. Lamont’s response to the severe outbreak numbers right now is bordering on reckless endangerment to our community. Again, the US is oblivious to the lessons Europe is freely giving to us here. Repeating the same mistakes as in March.”

We may not be looking to our politicians for medical guidance, but we’re not calling upon our family doctors, either. Less than 2 percent of those responding to the survey said they trusted their own physicians when it came for information on the pandemic or vaccine. Instead, nearly 64 percent of readers surveyed said they were taking their cues from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and over 23 percent are looking to Dr. Deborah Birx for guidance.

Other comments included:

“People need to stop making this political and consider speaking with your doctor about whether it is good for you as an individual to get the vaccine. Your politician is not a doctor and cannot advise you!!! I believe Trump did good with the vaccine weather you like him or not. I’m a registered Democrat!!!”

“I have a 6 year old; trial studies haven’t even begun on kids under 12. This vaccine was pushed out too quickly to determine longevity and potential side effects. But even if I was to get the vaccine for myself, life wouldn’t return to normal until my child is also safe.”

“Vaccines have always been the best health measure anyone could have. The relatively low cost for huge benefits are often overlooked by the general public. For example, people used to be terrified of polio and now you hardly hear of it, thanks to the vaccines that are readily available. Measles used to cause many deaths or serious disabilities in children, but is becoming less of an issue with widespread vaccination of children. Vaccines are the best bargain, and one of the most important health care interventions, available to all.”

“It is not a matter of the vaccine working or not. It is a matter of being forced to do it. No one should ever have to do anything against there will regardless of what it is. We should be able to choose what we want done.”

“My mother was born in 1915 and my grandmother and grandfather held her back from attending school until she was old enough to attend the 3rd grade. They experienced the Spanish flu, diphtheria and other epidemics and feared the consequences. My mother made sure all 3 of her children were vaccinated prior to attending school and I remember standing in line with my family to get the polio vaccine. People seem to be out of touch with death and the consequences of poor health due to personal practices. A pathetic reality given how highly educated and wealthy America is.”

“People who refuse to take the shot should not be allowed to attend school, fly on an airplane, use public transportation, etc. It is completely selfish to put the job of herd immunity on the shoulders of everyone else and not take personal responsibility. This includes people who use religion as an excuse. Religion should not get in the way of protecting your fellow man. It is not a valid reason not to take the vaccine.The Measles virus is making a comeback because of the religious exemption. The rest of us should not have to bear the risk of getting this illness because of a small minority. The only people who should be excused are those who have a medical reason.”

“Fortunately, we are still a free country. Free to make our own decisions and choices. Hopefully, it will stay that way.”

“I am a health care provider and have strong feelings about the vaccine. I am hoping that there will be some sort of ID badge we are issued once we are vaccinated and that schools, employers, etc. will require that you have it to enter, etc. The biggest shame is that we have not had adequate testing available. And the other disgusting shame is the irresponsibility of so many people. Today I saw a TJ Maxx parking lot FULL of probable Christmas shoppers. I don’t understand why people are Christmas shopping, or at least why there is no limit to how many people are inside TJMaxx. This is lunacy. There will be so much carnage in a few months, morgues full, hospitals turning people away. Why aren’t people understanding the gravity of what is going on??? Christmas shopping should be banned this year. Restaurants should have ZERO indoor dining. It’s a nightmare. “

“All Washington politicians should receive the vaccines first. If they do well than it is safe for the rest of us.”

“I’m ready to move on from this virus. The toll has been too much emotionally, physically and relationship-wise.”

This article originally appeared on the Across Connecticut Patch

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