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The sad story called "It's Too Late" - (8/17/2021)

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

Howie, 62, came into the pharmacy to buy cough drops. The pharmacist said, "Howie, have you been vaccinated against COVID, or would you like to be vaccinated right now?" Howie laughed and said, "Kiddin' me? I'm not getting involved with all that science nonsense," he replied. "One day, I am told to wear a mask. The next day, I don't need to wear a mask. Then, I need a shot. But then I hear the shots are not safe. They cause bad side effects. I am not going to take the chance of dying from a vaccine that may or may not protect me from a little virus." "It's free…" the pharmacist yelled as the flustered Howie rushed out of the store without his cough drops. 

The pharmacist knew he met his match. No amount of cajoling, sweet-talking, or arm-twisting will make people like Howie see the light. So far, 90 million eligible Americans have not received the COVID vaccine. While the number of vaccinated people is on the upswing, others express why they are vaccine-hesitant: About 50% were concerned about side effects. Those who said they would ''definitely not" get a vaccine were more likely to distrust both the vaccine and the government. Many said they were waiting for full FDA approval, beyond the emergency use authorization the FDA has given the vaccines so far. Apparently, the fact that over 634,000 Americans have died from COVID is not convincing enough. For the deceased, “it’s too late” to get vaccinated.

The next day, Howie came back into the pharmacy for his forgotten cough drops. He said to the pharmacist, "Did you see that pathetic news story about the dad who refused to get the shot, and now he is allegedly dying in some hospital? They trotted out a nurse who said he begged for the vaccine after he got sick. The nurse told him, 'It's too late.'" "And you don't believe it?" asked the pharmacist. "Nah, a Hollywood boo-hoo-a-rama. You know how I know it's all acting? It was only on liberal-ass CNN and MSNBC. Fox does not run fake news like that." The pharmacist wondered if Fox News mentioned that 99% of patients who died from COVID were not vaccinated. Because in July, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical advisor, reported that on CBS News. 

Millions of people are agonizing about the safety of the COVID vaccines. In the interim, some people will be told “it’s too late” to get a vaccine because they are too ill from the virus. Know that the risk of a serious side effect – like a blood clot – is as statistically unlikely as winning Powerball. Meanwhile, new data from the CDC say the odds of dying from the vaccine is about 0.001% versus 99.999% - who will not die. Also, only 0.005% of fully vaccinated people were hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those who did catch the virus – 99.995% had mild symptoms they treated at home.

But we can bandy about numbers until the proverbial cows come home. Are these anti-vaxxers stupid, scared, rebellious, or outright paranoid? How will they react when COVID hits them? When someone tells them “It’s too late” to get a shot? Sure, we live in a free country. But your freedoms stop at you giving me a severe illness. It is not a personal right. It is a public health matter. As some drag their feet, the virus keeps mutating, and we will have to keep changing the vaccine formulation as stronger variants emerge. We do that with the flu shot. Yet, COVID is much more contagious with long-lasting brain, heart, and lung symptoms that we may not realize for decades.    

The pharmacist says to get the vaccine. Take the chance. And since no vaccine is 100% perfect, even if it does not keep you from getting it, at least it will help you get through it. Because at some point, as we fight to save the human race from a craftier, more virulent virus, this so-called science nonsense will tell us, "It's too late."

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a recovering pharmacist and writer-in-residence at Rx-Press.

 

 


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