First thing’s first. I don’t believe the COVID-19 vaccines have “failed”. They were never intended to completely stop the transmission of the coronavirus. I just want to state that upfront before I launch into today’s rantings. As far as I can tell, the vaccines ARE working. But they were never intended to completely halt infections. Now… on with today’s topic.
This morning, after I read the depressing news about how Afghanistan’s government has completely collapsed in the wake of the U.S. troops’ departure from the country, I noticed another story about about Iceland and its COVID-19 vaccination results. The news article was headlined “Iceland has been a vaccination success. Why is it seeing a coronavirus surge?” Then, following the headline, was this:
“Vaccine opponents have gleefully pointed to Iceland as proof that the shots are a ‘failure.’ But contrary to online misinformation and conspiratorial social media posts, infectious-disease experts say Iceland’s outbreak actually illustrates how effective the vaccines are at preventing the virus’s most severe impacts.”
I must take issue with the use of the word “gleeful”. Why in the hell would ANYONE be gleeful about a vaccine failing? Particularly when COVID-19 is KILLING people and seems to be mutating into more and more dangerous forms? But, as I read on, I realized that despite vaccine opponents’ “glee”, they’ve got it all wrong. Yes, there has been a COVID-19 surge in Iceland. BUT—–
“Many of the country’s recent infections have occurred among vaccinated people, but they’ve been overwhelmingly mild. So even as new cases multiplied, Iceland’s rates of covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths have remained low. Of the 1,300 people currently infected, just 2 percent are in the hospital. The country hasn’t recorded a virus death since late May.”
According to the article, about 71 percent of Iceland’s residents are fully vaccinated. There are fewer than 360,000 people living in Iceland, and it has a nationalized universal healthcare system. People in Iceland started getting vaccinated at the very end of 2020 and have continued to get the shot(s) since then. Most folks have had the Pfizer two shot regimen, and Iceland’s health authorities are now saying that those who got the Johnson & Johnson shot should now get a booster eight weeks later. More from the article:
“Iceland has also had a sophisticated system for testing, tracing and sequencing the virus since early in the pandemic. That surveillance — the result of a partnership between Iceland’s health department and the Reykjavik-based human genomics company deCODE — led to some of the first important revelations about the way the virus spreads, including that many infected people have no symptoms and that children were less likely than adults to get sick. It continues to provide Iceland a clear picture of what it is facing, in contrast to a country like the United States, which is testing a far smaller share of its population.”
Because of the widespread vaccination efforts, Iceland started to normalize somewhat over the summer. Masks, social-distancing, limits on gatherings and operating hours of businesses, and testing of vaccinated travelers were curtailed. But then there was a surge. However, the people who have gotten infected are, by and large, surviving the illness and avoiding the hospitals and being intubated and ventilated. The people who are the sickest are, generally speaking, not vaccinated.
In other words, the vaccines ARE working. But they can’t completely stop COVID from spreading or people from getting infected. They only make the disease much less deadly. So, if people are going to be gleeful, they should be gleeful about that. I don’t understand the mindset of people being happy when a potential vaccine or treatment fails. Failure means continuing to live the way we have since last year, and the COVID-19 lifestyle sucks on many levels.
I will admit I haven’t hated all of it. I enjoyed having Bill working at home last year. I haven’t been too sad about missing the crowds, either. I like the fact that the pandemic will force employers to rethink how they do business and how much they pay their workers. But on the whole, I really miss being able to travel with ease and not having to worry about contracting a serious illness any time I go out somewhere.
Yes, I am fully vaccinated, and yes, I expect that I will eventually come into contact with the virus. I’m hoping that I won’t get horribly sick from it and wind up hospitalized, and I’m encouraged that the vaccine seems to be preventing that outcome. I would never be “gleeful” if it didn’t work, though. I think if the vaccines didn’t work at all, I would be pretty depressed about it. What kind of person would be “gleeful” about vaccine failure? I’ll tell you what kind of person– many people in the military.
Last night, I read an article in the Army Times about a new rule that requires families of Soldiers graduating from basic training at Fort Jackson (near Columbia, SC) to be vaccinated if they want to attend the graduation ceremony. There was much complaining about that new rule and, quite frankly, a lot of ignorance being perpetuated. I read lots of butthurt comments from guys saying that they wouldn’t be re-enlisting, because they don’t want to be forced to take a non-FDA approved vaccine.
I want to say to those guys– every vaccine was, at one time, not approved by the government. And we won’t make any progress toward changing this situation if no one is willing to be a “lab rat” of sorts. Many thousands of people have been vaccinated and are, for the most part, totally fine. Yes, there have been a few people who haven’t been fine, but they are in a very small minority. Moreover, anyone who joins the military is likely going to be in harm’s way at some point. Frankly, I would rather take my chances with an “experimental” shot than being shot at by insurgents.
And, by the way, the mRNA technology used to make the COVID vaccines has been around for about twenty years. The research that went into making the vaccines has been studied for awhile now. COVID simply forced our hand in making the technology available now. The shots will be FDA approved. When they are, you bet your ass the troops will be rolling up their sleeves, or they will be leaving the military. Which reminds me…. aren’t these COVID vaccine deniers the kind to NOT trust the government, even if they work for the government (and have a pretty socialist work environment, to boot)? So why are they so worried about FDA approval?
So guys were complaining about the shots and their families having to take them or not go to graduation ceremonies. Well… the world has changed, and we can’t have a bunch of people in the military getting sick with COVID-19. It’s not safe for unvaccinated family members to hang out with Soldiers, who may be living in close quarters, and then allowing the virus to spread among troops. Even those who are against the vaccines must know that COVID spreads, right? Or do they still think this is all a big political stunt to keep Trump out of office?
Sigh… I feel kind of bad for Joe Biden. He’s having to make some tough decisions right now. People are blaming him for the Afghanistan mess. That was NOT his mess. He is simply making the difficult decision to get America out of that sinkhole. Yes, it sucks that Afghanistan is falling to the Taliban, but we’ve been there for 20 years and it’s time to get out. As we’ve seen over the past year, we’ve got bigger problems to handle… and they include a virus that is really wreaking havoc. The virus, despite what some want to believe, is not just affecting the United States, and it has zero to do with politics.
I really wish people would just come together and do their part to stop this madness. Sadly, I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I’m just glad Bill is out of the Army and never had to go to Afghanistan. I’m sure it’s heartbreaking for people to see what their sacrifice has led to. I wish some of the crybabies who are bitching about vaccines at Fort Jackson would show some fortitude and stop whining about vaccines. They probably aren’t going to have to go to Afghanistan, are they? That’s one good reason to be “gleeful”. I would expect most thinking people would not be gleeful about failing vaccinations.