I am fully vaccinated against Covid-19, including a booster. Moderna. From all of the information I have on hand, it is safer to get vaccinated than to contract the virus. The disease is serious; although it mostly affects the elderly, it also affects some who consider themselves younger than they are, and the long-term consequences of the disease should not be underestimated.
Ideally, as many people as possible would be vaccinated – not just against Corona. From a medical point of view, everything speaks in favor of compulsory vaccination. However, this is not a purely medical discussion.
The main reasons for refusing or delaying the vaccination are skepticism about the vaccination itself, skepticism about the dangers of the Coronavirus and its variants, and weighing of various factors – economic, psychological, social and political.
Of course, disinformation plays a role, but probably less than you think: I have researched and personally had to deal with all the arguments of Covid and vaccination skeptics for a very long time. I find these arguments unconvincing, simply wrong and often deliberately misleading. In my opinion, disinformation is mainly confirmatory. People usually look for arguments that already confirm their positions – they are far less likely to be persuaded by other opinions than one might think.
Disinformation is also particularly successful when politics and science themselves do not have a clear line to show. In science, unfortunately, this is often due to the nature of things: a changed factual situation requires different conclusions. The political dimension of these dilemmas then lies in communicating the nature of science clearly and honestly. Too often this has not happened. But what should a citizen then orientate themselves towards? Does mask wearing help or not (it does)? Is a community mask ok, or do you need a medical one (N95/FFP2)? Astra-Zeneca or mRNA (probably mRNA)? Booster or not (Booster)? Etc. A lot of these issues have been mis-communicated in the past.
This creates uncertainty, even fear. But to force those who are afraid or skeptical about the vaccination seems to me politically wrong. You have to convince, educate, inform honestly and in all directions – without prohibitions on thinking, but with an emphasis on scientific consensus. Honestly state the consequences of damages from Covid-19 as compared to vaccination and explain the statistics.
It seems clear that Covid-19 is more dangerous than vaccination. That has to be communicated consistently. A democracy only works if everyone (everyone!) does their own thinking – and if everyone is seen as part of the community. It is just as clear, however, that individual freedom must also always take the freedom of others into account. A pandemic is an emergency and we all have to work together to overcome it – and if not with the vaccination, then with a mask, distance, quarantine, isolation, etc. There can only be normality once the danger has passed for all of us. But it is not time for that yet.
(originally published in German on philkneis.com)