Vaccine refusal: What will prevent the end of the COVID-19 pandemic?

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Ella Litchfield

As the United States is entering the final stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine refusal is the newest obstacle that needs to be overcome before returning to normal.

Kendall Jarvis, News Editor

Bodily autonomy is an important right to the American people, even when that autonomy can endanger others. However, it is important that most Americans make the conscientious decision to get the vaccine to avoid serious consequences. 

Since January, 209 million vaccines have been administered in the U.S., with many Americans encouraging a strong momentum to push past the pandemic. But, with the approval and spread of the vaccines, issues have arisen due to many Americans’ choice to refuse the vaccine.

With many citizens against the vaccine, the U.S. will be held back in the progression of the final stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Refusal of the vaccine will allow more outbreaks to occur, variants of the virus to mutate and increase tax money and insurance premiums spent on their care. 

The coronavirus has proven to cause severe long-term lung damage, giving way for other illnesses to greater impact individuals’ health. Illnesses like pneumonia can leave patients with more health problems if they have previously contracted COVID-19. 

This health issue will be seen for years and even decades into the future as more individuals contract illnesses that affect the lungs. Their medical bills and hospital costs will not only be paid for by the individuals, but by all Americans. An article from “The Atlantic” proposes the cost of these bills to reach $1 billion, eventually, which will be taken from taxpayers’ money.

While the economy is one concern, a greater concern would be a larger spread of a mutated version of COVID-19 not protected by the vaccine. The chance of this occurring is heightened with the number of people who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine due to their greater ability to catch the virus. 

Senior Maya Hartz has received the vaccine and is concerned about the future if many people decide against receiving the vaccine. “If people do not receive the vaccine there is a higher chance for them to spread [the coronavirus] to others. Instead of eradicating the virus, the people who do not get vaccinated will make it easier for it to still be a threat,” she said.

Vaccinated individuals can fight off the virus before it can thrive within their body and mutate to a strain that can defeat the immunity provided by the injection. A community-wide immunization against all forms of COVID-19 is not possible without all or an overwhelming majority of individuals that are vaccinated. 

PV math teacher Julie Spelhaug received the coronavirus vaccine earlier this year and explained that it is crucial that everyone does their part in these final stages of the pandemic. “I believe it is critical that we achieve herd immunity and we cannot do that without a very high level of participation,” she stated.

The future of the pandemic is in the hands of those currently refusing to receive the vaccine, and this concern is extremely important; choosing to accept the injection impacts the entire country and should not be simply a personal decision.

Although it cannot be only a personal choice to receive the vaccine, there is a very fine line between forced vaccinations and allowing individuals the freedom to refuse. Hartz shared her frustration between allowing others to choose and the wellbeing of the community. “I do not know how we should approach the obstacle [of individuals refusing the vaccine] because we cannot force people to take it, it has to be their choice,” she explained. 

Now that many Americans have been immunized, the vaccination has proven to be safe for the majority of people to receive. Both Hartz and Spelhaug remarked that their experiences were extremely easy when they received their vaccinations. Spelhaug said she was concerned about the side effects but only had a sore arm, highlighting the safe-nature of the vaccine.

With the future on the line, everyone should be choosing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to protect not only themselves but the community as a whole. Science has proven that becoming immunized is safe, so the choice of refusing the vaccine is majorly political and is a morally incorrect choice.