Rep. Dr. Gregg Schmedes spoke out strongly against mandatory vaccinations in his op-ed piece Aug. 28. He noted that “mandatory COVID-19 vaccination and medical freedom are mutually exclusive.” As a medical doctor myself, I could not agree more.
I was recently a patient in Presbyterian Hospital where I was given complete freedom to accept or refuse any diagnostic procedure or medicine. If I had any reservations about my treatment I was told, “You can refuse it if you wish.” To be given such a degree of patient autonomy was not only reassuring but empowering.
Alas, such freedom of choice apparently will not extend to the coming COVID-19 vaccine.
To contemplate being forcibly vaccinated – the governor is on record that the vaccine may be mandatory for certain populations – is not only repugnant but scary. The COVID-19 vaccine now under development in laboratories throughout the world is being rushed to market like no other vaccine. Earlier this year we were told a vaccine would not be ready for at least 18 months. Now it appears it may be ready before year’s end.
It is instructive to note that the varicella (chickenpox) zoster (shingles) virus (VZV) was isolated in 1954. Subsequent studies of the virus led to the development of a varicella vaccine in Japan in the 1970s. It was not licensed in the United States until 1995, and the vaccine to reduce the risk of herpes zoster (shingles) was only licensed in 2006.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was licensed in 2006, though studies showing a consistent association between HPV and cervical cancer were published in the 1990s.
Historically, it takes five to 15 years to get most vaccines approved and licensed. That is because a vaccine has to fulfill two absolute criteria: It must be effective and it must be safe. To fulfill these criteria takes time, lots of time, exactly what we are not seeing in the rush to bring this vaccine to market. Yes, “to market.”
There are enormous sums to be made and from the pharmaceutical company’s point of view it is a “win-win” situation. Whichever COVID-19 vaccine wins out, that company will have a guaranteed market worth billions and, should the COVID-19 vaccine turn out to cause unforeseen harmful side effects, that manufacturer cannot be held liable, i.e., cannot be sued, because of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act that was signed into law in 1986. So, for the successful COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, it’s “Heads I win, tails you lose.”
We, as citizens, have every right to question the safety of this vaccine. It will not be easy. Enormous pressure will be brought to persuade the citizenry that this unproven vaccine will save lives and hasten revival of the economy. It will be suggested that if one refuses to be vaccinated, he or she is being selfish and not being a team player.
Caveat emptor applies here. Let the buyer beware. The buyer alone is responsible for determining the quality and suitability before a purchase is made.
I stand with Dr. Schmedes who wrote, “I will not take a vaccine with such a high potential for unknown side effects.”