Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — August 18, 2021

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

341. Breakthrough Covid-19 cases in Connecticut are very rare.

         Q:  I’m vaccinated and worried about breakout infections.  What is my risk? 

         A:   The Connecticut Health Department has found that less than .01% of the fully vaccinated people in the state have later contracted Covid-19.  That’s less than 1 person in a group of 1,000 vaccinated people.  If you are vaccinated and do get infected, you have a 45% chance of remaining asymptomatic.  Asymptomatic patients are not contagious and aren’t a risk of spreading the disease to others.  And remember, if you become one of the very rare breakout patients who develop symptoms, you are quite safe from getting serious disease, becoming hospitalized, or dying!

342. Parents are more supportive of mandatory masks for schoolchildren than for mandatory vaccines.

         Q: How do parents feel about mandatory masks and mandatory vaccines for children?

         A:  A survey released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that on the opening of another challenging school year, more parents are supportive of mandatory mask-wearing by all school children than many political authorities are even allowing.  In fact, mandatory mask-wearing is supported more than mandatory vaccinations before children can enter school.  The survey was based on a nationally representative sample of 1,259 parents with a child under 18 in the household.  This conflict is taking place as the Delta variant is raging, sending more young people to the hospital.   The survey was conducted between July 15 and August 2.  It found that one in five parents of children aged from 12 to 17 would “definitely not” get vaccinated.  “Despite controversy around the country about masks in schools, most parents want their school to require masks of unvaccinated students and staff.” Drew Altman, the foundation’s chief executive stated.  With regard to vaccine hesitancy, the survey found that attitudes broke down along racial, ethnic, and partisan lines.  Hispanic and black parents were more likely than white parents to cite concerns that reflect inadequate access to vaccination sites.  This includes not finding a clinic that they could trust or thinking they had to pay for it.  About 66% of Democratic parents supported mandatory vaccines while more than 75% of Republican parents opposed then.

343. One solution to encourage more vaccinations: stop providing for free testing.

         Q:  What are other countries doing to encourage more people to get vaccinated?

         A:  Germany has introduced a new tactic: Chancellor Angela Merkel last week,  citing that the Delta variant has been rising throughout the European Union and that only 55% of Germans are fully vaccinated (62.5% have just had one shot), and that the vaccination rate has slowed down, the country will no longer pay for future testing of the unvaccinated.  The European Union has adopted a green pass that authenticates a person has been vaccinated.  Germany also requires that anyone participating in certain indoor activities such as eating in restaurants or going to hairdressers or gyms must present this proof of vaccination, a recent recovery, or a negative test result before they can participate.  The intent of this tactic is to force unvaccinated people to pay for each test out of pocket or get the free vaccination.  One overlooked outcome: all unvaccinated people who don’t want to participate in these indoor activities will remain untested.  Thus, they will not be identified for future contract tracing and isolation.  It is not known that if a person is identified as having Covid-19, would they have to pay for a test to confirm this before they can be quarantined?

344. For those who are vaccinated, a review of facts with the delta variant present.    

         Q:  My daughter wants to get pregnant, so is it safe for her to be vaccinated?

         A:  On August 11, the CDC released formal guidance from studies reinforcing what physicians have been counseling for months.  “Covid-19 vaccination is recommended for all people aged 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future.  Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people.  Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.”  That is the exact wording of the CDC guidance.  It is noted in studies that the immunity offered by the vaccination is transferred to the fetus in utero, and continues to benefit the infant after birth.

345. Not all people who could be vaccinated but aren’t are “antivaxxers”

         Q:  Who are the eligible but vaccine-hesitant people not getting their shots?

         A:  Zeynep Tufekei is a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is also an influential author for the New York Times and The Atlantic.  She recently published an article “The Lure of the Caricature” exploring the multiple factors influencing people’s decisions not to get vaccinated – at this time.  She describes a new story genre that defines the unrepentant anti-vaxxer.  This caricature is someone “who remains unvaccinated despite tragedy, or someone who makes absurd claims.”  The broad outline is repeated with multiple stories and posts in their many presentations.  These all easily find their way to becoming viral.  Social media rapidly spreads these postings and they enter the cybersphere as truth in their appearance but as “misinformation” by those hoping to focus on increasing the number of vaccinations.

With that caveat; I don’t doubt that some people will never be convinced of reality, Zeynep identifies multiple groups of people who are vaccine-hesitant.  In a survey given in June, the following were identified.

  • About 14% of the population who express “definitely not.”
  • Those who will wait and see.
  • Those who will wait until it is required.

It is evident that many of these people are getting vaccinated over time, indicating they are in a movable camp.

In the same survey, the following variables in decreasing importance (as a major reason) were identified as causing the individual’s vaccine hesitancy:

  • The vaccine is too new (53%)
  • Worried about side effects (53%)
  • Just don’t want to get the vaccine (43%)
  • Don’t trust the government (38%)
  • Don’t think they need this vaccine (38%)
  • Don’t believe the vaccine is safe (37%)
  • Don’t trust vaccines in general (26%)
  • Have a medical reason for not getting it now (14%)
  • Too busy, or haven’t had time to get it (12%)
  • Don’t like getting shots (12%)
  • Worried about missing work (7%)
  • Difficult to travel to vaccination site (6%)

The rest of her article explores the influences that create and reinforce hesitancy.  For example: “There’s long been an idea that a key problem with digital media has been the echo chamber it produces.”  That’s not false, but it’s incomplete – “if anything, we are more isolated offline in the United States.”

This discussion serves as a guide for those who want to do community service by meeting and discussing hesitancy with those not yet vaccinated.