Don’t paint all unvaccinated people with the same brush!
Nine reasons why people decline the Covid vaccines
Before I describe the various arguments that I have heard from people who have decided not to take the Covid vaccines, let me first point out that vaccine passport systems provide a false sense of security.
In particular, a so-called 2G system —where proof of vaccination or recovery is a necessary and sufficient condition for access to certain public spaces, and where unvaccinated people are excluded even if they can show a negative test result — is risky in terms of both infections and hospitalizations, especially if many elderly people are present.
“But you can just get vaccinated.”
In recent months I’ve been in contact with a lot of people who decline to be vaccinated. That’s how I know that this group is made up of quite a few different sub-groups, each with their own concerns.
By dismissing all these people as one homogenous group of ’anti-vaxxers’ when it comes to discussions about the transition to a vaccine passport system where unvaccinated people are banned from certain public places you are not doing justice to the concerns many of them have. It is also a form of ’us vs. them’ thinking that you would hope has no place in the Netherlands in the 21st century.
I have come across each of the following arguments more than once:
1. “I oppose vaccination for religious reasons.”
In all religions I come across views held by strict orthodox people that are very distant from my own, and that I frankly also find incomprehensible. But I think one of the great aspects of Dutch society is that we give each other space to have such different views. As is said about free speech, "I abhor what you say, but I will fight that you may say it."
It is alarming that this achievement is so easily discarded by many.
2. “My own personal health situation is such that my doctors advise me against getting vaccinated.”
It is of course impossible for me to check in each individual case whether this is really true, but I have spoken with various doctors who have indicated that there are indeed people who are advised not to get vaccinated.
3. “My GP has told me it is better not to get vaccinated against Covid-19.”
Many people have a years-long relationship of trust with their GP. And some GPs are not enthusiastic about vaccinating with the new vaccine, to say the least. If that doctor advises you against it and you are unable to properly absorb all the information that is available, which is a pretty daunting task anyway, then you cling to their advice.
4. “We have had disastrous experiences with drugs/medications and refuse to take a vaccine.”
A good example: a daughter of a DES mother, who herself became infertile due to the use of DES by her mother during pregnancy. And therefore categorically refuses to take medicines or vaccinations.
(Not everybody is able, as my son Marc was after medical errors resulted in paraplegia, to continue to trust doctors and the healthcare system. But exactly because I experienced this process from up close, I also understand the people who went a different direction than Marc did.)
5. “A relative/close acquaintance suddenly died shortly after the vaccination, even though they were not experiencing any other health issues. I don't want to take that risk.”
This is something I have heard regularly and it also concerns fathers/mothers or brothers/sisters. Now you can respond with reassuring statistics about deaths due to / deaths following vaccination, or about the increased risk of dying if you get Covid-19.
But firstly, these statistics are not without their problems (for example, there are striking differences per country in adverse events reporting rates).
And secondly, some people are afraid of flying, even though the risk of a plane crash is unambiguously very small. Who am I or who is the government to indirectly force these people to do something that they really dread?
6. “I am a young man and the data show a clear risk of significant cardiac problems among young men.”
Various studies have been carried out in various locations into the incidence of cardiac issues following vaccination, and it is evident that between the ages of 12 and 25 there is an increase in such problems, including deaths (more so for men than women). See this article, for example.
In addition, there are various anecdotal reports where in the young age groups (and in particular while exercising) athletes have died of cardiac arrest. Now these could have been the result of the vaccine or of a prior Covid infection. But if you listen to Kyle Warner’s poignant story and what he says about others like him, I can well imagine that if you are in this demographic you may be hesitant to get vaccinated.
7. "I'm a woman and I still want to (be able to) have children in the future, and I'm not sure what the vaccine does in relation to my fertility."
That this group is larger than you probably think has been established by research carried out by Peil.nl. In the Netherlands, the difference in vaccination coverage between women of childbearing age and men is 13 percentage points. That's about 300,000 women!
At this point no one can say with 100% certainty that vaccination will definitely have no effect on fertility. But even if the risk is only 0.001%, some women will still say: “But I think that risk is too great. Because I want a child so badly, I prefer to take my chances and risk possibly getting Covid than take this vaccine."
8. “I’ve had Covid-19 so I have good protection against Covid-19.”
We can estimate that 40% of the unvaccinated belong to this group. Research does indeed show that having experienced the infection offers (very) good protection against reinfection.
9. “I look at the striking increases in excess mortality in many countries and I’m not hearing any explanations for this.”
It is indeed true that not just the Netherlands but many more countries have been experiencing excess mortality that started during the course of 2021 and that cannot be explained by deaths from Covid-19. On (Dutch website) virusvaria.nl, the figures in the Netherlands are described in two interesting articles (1) (2). This is also happening in many more countries. Spaniard Jose Gefaell (@ChGefaell) keeps track of it.
Also, this article by Prof. Fenton, an English specialist in Risk Information Management, makes you wonder about the effects of Covid-19 and vaccination.
We certainly cannot automatically say this excess mortality is due to vaccination. But what is so striking is how little attention is paid to this remarkable excess mortality, and how little serious research is done to find out what is causing it.
I understand the people who see these developments and who also notice how little serious research is being done or published, and I understand that they become suspicious, and that this plays an important role in their deliberations.
So these are nine different arguments against getting vaccinated. This is definitely not an exhaustive list but I think these nine groups are more than enough to make my point that we should not lump all unvaccinated people together.
And that the following statement that is often made in response to concerns about a vaccine passport system where unvaccinated people are banned from parts of society — "But they can just get vaccinated, and then they are free to do whatever they want" — is very short sighted.
I would like to invite people who say or think this to start a conversation with people from each of these nine groups, and to not just talk but listen.
And if they do, I wonder if they will still support such a system.
Maurice de Hond
This was an abridged and translated version of this article.