In the past weeks I have been bludgeoned with vaccine scepticism several times. In most cases I stumbled into those conversations totally unsuspecting, as I assumed that rational people know that it is preferrable to take a miniscule risk now in order to prevent exposure to a much larger risk down the road.
A good article on the topic is here: https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/commentisfree/2021/mar/21/do-not-fear-the-astrazeneca-covid-jab-the-risks-are-minimal
Decision making under risk seems to be quite lacking in the general population. In my chance encounters, people rather than engage with the vaccination dilemma, seem to want to discuss world events (like, why did the New York governor Cuomo not resign since he is “responsible for so many deaths”. etc).
People conflate my wish to survive (and facilitate the survival of my loved ones, some of them who are in high risk groups) with support for the fascist dictator that currently runs our government. “You wish to be vaccinated, then? I never imagined you to be a Janša sycophant. I thought you were better than that.”
I have been told that I have disappointed people, because they previously thought I was knowledgeable, but now they see that I am just a puppet of the world’s shadow government, who is vaccinating us to keep us docile.
My comments about research published in Nature and Science are met with derision, where literally a car mechanic tells me that I should not trust scientific journals, because they print shoddy science. When I point out that this is, literally, the oldest and most prestigious journal there is, they tell me that there was also a Lancet article about the harmful effects of vaccinations, so there, for “my science”. When I point out that that article was debunked many times and that it was retracted, they tell me that this was done by secret societies that do not want us to know the truth. And I just take it, because this person is servicing my car, and I wish to have it done soon. And I feel like I am swapping the safety of my loved ones for convenience. And that makes me feel dirty.
I try to keep a positive spin on it. I mean, I the end the less people get vaccinated, the more doses there are for those of us who wish to survive, so it works out in the end. However, their ignorance and scepticism encroaches on my freedoms (when rollouts are halted, as they were last week). At the same time my wish for myself to be vaccinated does not encroach on others’ perceived right to spread the disease further and kill off those who are unable to be vaccinated.
Also, while I appear glib, I actually do not like people dying, it is a bummer, and funerals suck. If I never have to go to another, I would be just fine with that.
In addition I am bothered by egocentrism. I would prefer to live in a community where we take reasonable care of others, and are prepared to take reasonable risks that help others survive. It upsets me that I have to watch when relatives call someone from a group where the mortality rate is higher than 85% and tell them that they should not get a vaccine, because you “never know”. Surely, the vaccine death rates are lower than 4 out of 5 people. And then, in a pinnacle of distastefulness, they ask for advice on whether they should get vaccinated. To clarify, what they are saying is: “I know you have an almost certain chance of death if we don’t eradicate the virus, but hey, advise me whether it is ok to kill you out of malfeasance”.
So I am stuck. It is still worth reading the article, though, as it coaches the dilemma (not explicitly, but that is what it is) in a game theory model.