If you ask anyone why they said yes to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you will receive unique answers. Some think it’s theirs best chance against the dangers of the virus, some may want to keep their jobs or Continue their education and maybe a few even trust the government. But if you ask someone why they did not agree to receive the vaccine, you will get much more interesting answers. While medical and religious exceptions are justified and validated under many mandates, other arguments are not. Some believe that vaccination is a smart disguise for one tracking devicethat it actually gives its recipients of the virus or that it has been approved too fast to be safe. For any theory, information can be found – and often cast – to support the claim. Too many of these theories, however, come from confirmation bias – to favor what proves one’s existing beliefs or biases – and to keep people from considering other points of view.
The COVID-19 vaccine was developed faster than most vaccines, with the first shot available within two years of the virus emerging. This was done during Operation Warp Speed, an initiative to shorten the 10 to 15 year window within which most vaccines are developed. That xenophobia, public unrest and general confusion caused by COVID-19 makes the virus itself a source of panic and mistrust. However, the vaccine did not seem to cure – excuse the pun – any of that disorder. For many, the vaccines did as much damage as the virus, and for some, the vaccines may have even had a more sinister aftermath. The problem that most of the United States faces is that these initial reservations about the vaccine do not change no matter how much information is collected or myths are dispelled. In fact, over time, it seems that they are only getting stronger.
Specifically for minorityis much of the reason for not receiving the vaccine based on distrust of state institutions, which is reasonably given history. Contrary to the other theories about the COVID-19 vaccine mentioned above, this is mistrust completely valid. Moreover, the medical and social abuse of minorities in both past and present is all the more reason to receive the vaccine. However, this mistrust has still led to confirmation bias, with some either ignoring or misinterpreting data to support suspicions that have already taken place. It seems that because many did not receive the vaccine when it was first available, it makes no sense to receive it now as if the opportunity window had been missed.
This is worrying for several reasons, the most important of which is that there is now more information about the vaccine than ever before – it no longer makes sense to mention lack of information and approval as a reason for not receiving the vaccine. When the vaccines were first approved, there was not much information about them, nor were there any guarantees for their effectiveness – now there are. However, there is no evidence of tracking systems, self-sabotage or thought control. Thus, confirmation bias is the reason why many do not receive the vaccine – as people have already accepted these theories, they ignore the lack of evidence. Moreover, these theories turn non-waxxers into temporary anti-waxers – for many, there is no history of mistrust of common vaccines in the past, but the COVID-19 vaccine is the one they reject. Once one has decided that the vaccine does not work, there seems to be no amount of information that will change that person’s opinion. Rather, the only information they will believe is the one that supports their already existing ideas – such as reports that vaccinated people are dying, despite the fact that many of these are not connected to the vaccine at all.
Moreover, the idea of “my body, my choice” – originally a feminist slogan – has been adopted by those who reject the vaccine on the basis of freedom and human rights. Along with undermining reproductive rights, the manipulation of this argument also stems from affirmation bias. The rationale behind it is not based on the vaccine, its effects or its components. It is rather based on values. By dividing the vaccination debate into two separate pages, any new information will be used to support what one sees as his or her values, even if it is not exactly true.
The point is not that everyone should receive the vaccine, although it should be encouraged to those who can. The point is, we need to get to grips with it reasons why many people refuse vaccinations. Denying vaccination because of political bias and misinformation not only strengthens the suspicion of those who are already unwilling to get the vaccination, but it can also have a negative impact on those who are willing. Misinformation about vaccinations has caused family gaps, loss of jobs and social discomfort. When you want to be right, it’s easy to miss the point. We do not know what the virus or vaccine is fully capable of. We do know, however, that the former is responsible for over 865,000 deaths and 64,000,000 admissions in the United States alone.
When deciding whether to get the vaccine or the booster syringe, focus on facts – not confirmation bias. In terms of both the vaccine and the coronavirus, people have developed an early, somewhat uninformed judgment based on misunderstandings. As this virus seems to be the new norm with new varieties occurs every year, fear and judgment will not defeat it. Informed, rational logic and reasoning will.
Shaleah Tolliver is the Senior Associate Opinion Editor for The Cavalier Daily. She can be met at [email protected].
The opinions in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns represent the views of the authors only.