Jimmy’s Denver Gazette Column | Here’s why I got vaccinated — but still get the mistrust

Written by on April 30, 2021

On Tuesday, I got my first Moderna COVID-19 shot. As someone who abhors needles, it wasn’t pleasant. But it wasn’t bad, either. With Tylenol in hand and soreness in my arm, I headed home. Other than some chills, lethargy, and muscle and body aches, I was basically fine.

Readers may wonder: Given my age (30), low risk profile and the fact that I already had COVID-19 last fall and likely still have antibodies, why did I get the shot? Skeptics may further point to its status as one of the first-ever, widely-used mRNA vaccines and suggest it’s “experimental.” Why would I want to be a guinea pig?

I’m no “guinea pig” — nearly 100 million Americans have been fully vaccinated already — but I think it’s a fair question. Frankly, what’s unfortunate is not the question itself; it’s how so many people feel a need to ask it. Honestly, are they wrong to wonder?

Our public health and political leaders have never made a genuine effort to educate us or to persuade skeptical Americans to get vaccinated. Questioners are told to quiet down and “accept the science!”

What the mockers don’t understand is just how bad America’s crisis of credibility is and what caused it. At Colorado Politics last July, I wrote, “Countless Americans in Colorado and elsewhere rightly don’t trust our institutions and our leaders. Why not? Because they keep moving the goalposts and the reasons, brushing aside complaints and insisting we ‘trust them.’ ”

Nearly a year later, polls demonstrate many Americans don’t trust our government and public health officials — with ample cause. Reluctance to get the vaccine is a consequence of this erosion of trust, which predates the pandemic.

Consider: Last summer, then-President Trump, then-Education Secretary DeVos and many others, myself included, argued schools needed to be reopened. Despite extensive global evidence supporting this, we were dismissed outright “because science” as officials were narrowly focused on trying to contain the virus.

When I interviewed Tri-County Health Department director Dr. John Douglas last spring, he obviously hadn’t gamed out the cost-benefit analysis of TCHD’s decisions; the same goes for Gov. Polis and Dr. Fauci. Fauci recently — finally — conceded the low risk of transmission in schools. It took him way too long and ripped away so much from countless kids, including too many lives to suicide.

As of Wednesday, 29.5% of Americans (96.7 million) are fully vaccinated; 42.6% (142 million) have had at least one dose. Colorado is slightly above the national average with 31.1% and 45.8%, respectively. Yet Fauci — hailed as THE expert — refuses to provide Congress with any metrics whatsoever for when wider restrictions, including indoor mask mandates, should ease. The Biden administration was dragged kicking and screaming to admit we don’t need to wear masks outside and end that silly guidance.

What about the J&J vaccine? The FDA gave expedited approval; then after roughly 8 million Americans had gotten it, the “experts” pulled its authorization for a couple weeks to “investigate” six instances of blood clots in eight million. “Abundance of caution,” perhaps, but wildly excessive. This government game of Green Light Red Light breeds deeper distrust. Did they think of that?

By the way, we had a vaccine ready in January 2020! Literally two days after the virus’s genetic sequence went public, Moderna was set. But it wasn’t until November that the vaccine was finally found 94.5% effective from clinical trials and vaccinations started. We had the thing this whole time. The same government we’re supposed to trust held it back, denied our right to make life-saving decisions for ourselves and kept restricting lives.

When goalposts keep changing, mask orders remain indefinitely despite increased vaccinations, and target metrics aren’t provided, you can’t blame people for skepticism. When the “experts” who say “just trust us” are woefully inconsistent and give deeply harmful advice, you can’t blame people for having doubts.

Which leads me to my personal decision to get vaccinated. I concluded it’s safe after speaking about mRNA vaccines with MDs and medically-savvy friends I trust, followed by subsequent research. mRNAs function differently than traditional vaccines but use revolutionary technology to achieve a similar outcome. Many family and friends were vaccinated with varying side-effects and turned out fine.

It’s proven the vaccines decrease the likelihood of contracting the virus — no vaccine is 100% effective — and diminishes the seriousness if you do. Only a tiny fraction of vaccinated Americans has contracted COVID-19 afterward. I’m an asthmatic harmonica player who gigs; I will perform more live shows this summer. I wanted to decrease my risk of getting this virus again, as I know people who’ve had repeat infections.

Finally, I want to help dismantle the arguments of our power-hungry health officials and politicians who persist in holding back our lives. The closer we get to herd immunity, the more transparently boneheaded their policies become.

Ultimately, while government should not force anyone to get vaccinated (and vaccine passports are genuinely un-American), it seems sensible for most people to choose vaccination.

Meanwhile, our leaders need to stop demanding we trust them and instead make a rational and believable case for their actions.

Click here to read the rest of Jimmy’s April 30 column at The Denver Gazette, a sister publication of The Washington Examiner.

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