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Please get covid vaccinated!

As the research directors, we want to make the Institute’s position on vaccination completely clear - get vaccinated as soon as you can. We do not support 'anti-vax' fears. Vaccination helps minimize the chance you might infect others with this potentially deadly disease; reduce the opportunity for the coronavirus to mutate into more deadly forms; and eliminate or minimize the risk of sickness or death in yourself. 

Yet, over the last number of months, we’ve all seen a very disturbing phenomenon emerge. A significant number of people refuse to get vaccinated. This problem has also shown up in some clients and therapists in the Institute. At first, when the vaccines were still new, we assumed this refusal was due to reasonable caution about possible side-effects from these experimental vaccines. However, enough people have been vaccinated, and enough time has passed, that this position against mRNA vaccines no longer makes any sense. 

At first, to try and allay covid anti-vaccination fears and give a sense of relative risks, we (Kirsten and Grant) used rational discourse and references to peer reviewed published data to combat the glut of distorted or dishonest clickbait circulating. But this approach didn’t work. Why? We slowly came to understand that we were seeing two different basic issues:

  1. The first problem is educational. Many of the people we talked to simply have a poor understanding or grasp of the technologies that their everyday life is based on. We’re not even referring to the complexities of biology, math, and drug testing that applies to vaccine development, but rather to a lack of a fundamental, simple understanding of the constantly changing and evolving nature of science. This causes people to be unable to immediately spot and reject misinformation. Some of the many examples as told to us:
"They think they are saving everyone by getting vaccinated” 
“This whole thing is no worse than the flu” 
"I don't know anybody that has it.... it isn't here"
"I am young... my body can handle it"
    Unfortunately, this unrecognized ignorance opens the door to unscrupulous people who use it to deceive and manipulate others for their personal gain. They use misinformation to trigger an emotional reaction. One way to know if you are being tricked is to ask yourself - does what I read or hear make me feel afraid, paranoid, or angry? This FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) manipulation is and has been used by stock short sellers, the tobacco lobby, the oil companies, politicians… the list is a long one. By contrast, reading real science is pretty darn boring! (We’ve added a reading list that addresses the science of covid vaccines below.)
  1. The second, much more prevalent, and far more intransigent block in the covid vaccine deniers we’ve spoken to is emotional. With the advent of covid, previously hidden emotional issues popped right into clear view. In this case, correct information simply doesn't matter. The biggest issue is mild to extreme paranoia (i.e., distrust of positive intentions, for example from authorities, doctors etc., fear of change, denial of mortality). This emotional block also shows up as an irrational anti-medicine bias.  Some of the many examples as told to us: 
“I never get sick” 
“10,000 people died from that vaccine” 
"I prefer a natural approach"
“I am shocked at how so many people here believe the propaganda [the governments encouraging people to get vaccinated]"

We were blindsided by all this, partly because we’re hardcore doctors, biologists, and psychologists who have a firm grounding in conventional medicine, intracellular biology, and drug research, and could not even imagine having such feelings! Yet in hindsight, we can now see that many of the people who are attracted to our psycho-immunology research have this underlying issue. 

From a practical standpoint, even if we had a perfect psycho-immunology (PI) approach for covid today - and sadly we don’t - we will not treat healthy people who choose not to vaccinate. This is because it can’t be used as a substitute for the readily available, effective vaccines. Why? First, and most importantly, our current treatment does not yet fix the potentially lethal low blood oxygen levels in hospitalized covid patients. Secondly, using a PI treatment as a vaccine substitute on healthy people can give a sense of false security - it is possible for people to do the steps but not actually succeed in using the process correctly, as there are no symptoms to measure treatment against. In fact, a PI approach is never going to reach the amazing success rate Pfizer or Moderna currently have, due to the difficulty in getting people to face and heal painful negative emotions. (As an aside, note that using both vaccines and PI is ok, being a sort of ‘belt and suspenders’ approach. And in some cases, where vaccines cannot be used such as with immune-suppressed patients, a PI process could also be used, albeit with the caveats given above.)

To protect yourself and others - get vaccinated as soon as you can.

Recommended Reading:

  • “Vaccines Benefit Those Who Have Had COVID-19, Contrary to Viral Posts”, by C. Jaramillo from FactCheck.org, Aug 23, 2021. 
  • How to Make a Vaccine: An Essential Guide for COVID-19 and Beyond by John Rhodes, University of Chicago Press, April 12, 2021. 
  • The Covid-19 Vaccine Guide: The Quest for Implementation of Safe and Effective Vaccinations by K. Edwards MD, W. Orenstein MD, D. Stephens MD, March 23 2021. Excellent sourcebook for the layperson.
  • Understanding Coronavirus by Raul Rabadan, Cambridge University Press, October 2021. For laypeople.
  • Viruses, Pandemics, and Immunity by Chakraborty, Shaw, MIT Press, 2020. Excellent general background on pandemics for the layperson.
  • Cellular and Molecular Immunology, 10th ed., by Abul K. Abbas, Andrew H. Lichtman, Shiv Pillai, Elsevier Press, 2021. College level general information on immunology.
From the desks of 
Dr. Grant McFetridge and Dr. Kirsten Lykkegaard,
Co-directors of research
Hornby Island Canada
Oct 3, 2021
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