How to Make a COVID Vaccination Decision

In the debate over whether one should or should not get the COVID vaccination, much has been said about the “science.” However, I’m not sure any encyclopedic knowledge of “science” is required to make this health decision. Simple statistical analysis should suffice to inform one’s ultimate decision.

Statistics is primarily a study of probabilities. Fortunately, as regards COVID mortality rates, these probabilities are now known. That is, COVID mortality statistics broken down by age cohorts are now “known knowables.”

For example, through statistics as of April 7, the odds an American under the age of 25 would die from COVID were 1-in-106,217. On the extreme other end of the age spectrum, the odds an American 85 or older would die from the disease were an eye-opening 1-in-39.4. (Not surprisingly, albeit under-reported, the largest category of COVID victims by age cohort is Americans 85 and older).

This means that the probability a person in our country’s oldest age cohort (85 and older) will die from or with COVID is 2,696 times greater than the nation’s youngest citizens (those under the age of 25).

Given these statistics, If I was much older, I would almost certainly get the vaccine. But since I’m not in this age group, I don’t think there’s any pressing need for me to get the vaccine. That is, I can afford to wait and learn of any possible long-term (or short-term) negative effects.

As my young children’s odds of dying from COVID are probably around 1-in-700,000, I definitely don’t think they should get a vaccine... especially where the long-term effects of these vaccines are the very definition of “unknowable.”

One’s race and whether one would qualify as obese are other important variables that either increase or reduce one’s mortality risks of COVID. Mortality among minority populations is significantly higher than non-minorities. I also recently learned that 68 percent of COVID victims met the medical definition of “obese.”

That is, one’s age, race, as well as one’s “body mass index” are all crucial variables in correctly calculating one’s own specific “risks” of dying of COVID-19. And, again, “health risks” can be quantified when seeking to calculate one’s own probability of dying from COVID.

It is also, by now, a “known knowable” that about 50 percent of people who have been vaccinated will experience some negative side effects. Typically, these side effects are minor, ranging from a sore arm to a day or two of “flulike” symptoms. Also, even the most zealous boosters of universal vaccination would acknowledge that a tiny percentage of those who have been vaccinated will experience significant adverse reactions (including death in some “anomaly” cases).

Basically, simple statistical analysis of known data tells most Americans if they are in the group who should get vaccinated.

However, if a person happens to belong to groups which include almost a zero probability of dying from COVID, why would such a person swap this microscopic risk of dying when he or she knows they have a coin-flip chance of experiencing at least some minor discomfort caused by the vaccine? Furthermore, why would one assume these “knowable” risks when it’s impossible (at the moment) to know any of the possible long-term effects?

As for those who have already contracted the virus (especially those in younger age groups), research and known data tells us that the probability any of these people will contract the virus again -- and then die from it -- are as close to zero as one can get.

Those in this category would also seem to be assuming many “known” -- and even likely -- statistical risks… All to prevent an outcome that, expressed statistically, is almost an impossibility.

All this said, I certainly believe any adult who wants to get a vaccine should do so. At some point, I might choose to get vaccinated. What bothers me is when people tell individuals like me that we should get the vaccine. What really alarms me is the group that is advocating for mandatory vaccines for everyone, including my young children (who, literally, have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than dying from COVID).

Friends have told me there is “no good reason” to not get vaccinated. This is simply not true. There are dozens of valid reasons someone can decide to pass on the vaccine, or at least wait a little longer to allow more time to gauge the results and possible side effects. This is especially true for those whose own risks of dying from the virus are, statistically, almost nonexistent.

Bill Rice, Jr. is a freelance journalist in Troy, Alabama. He can be reached by email at wjricejunior@gmail.com

Image: Pixabay

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