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A staff member at the Wayne County Health Department pre­pares to admin­ister the COVID-19 vaccine to a patient. | Detroit Free Press

Anyone 18 and older will be able to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this week at Hillsdale High School, according to a campus-wide email from Hillsdale College Director of Health Ser­vices Brock Lutz on Tuesday, March 30. However, it is important that stu­dents be informed of the risks asso­ciated with the COVID-19 vaccine before they take action.

While 55% of 340 Hillsdale stu­dents sur­veyed about the vaccine reported that they would not take it, as of a Feb. 18 Col­legian article, raising con­cerns about the COVID-19 vaccine is taboo in main­stream society and the pres­sures to submit unques­tion­ingly to the needle are great. 

The incon­ve­nience of daily life without the COVID-19 vaccine is likely to increase dra­mat­i­cally in the near future. According to USA Today, New York will issue the nation’s first vac­ci­nation passport, the Excelsior Pass, on April 2. The pass will be used to allow vac­ci­nated people entry to venues like Madison Square Garden, and according to the article, “it already lets people increase the size of a wedding party, or other catered event.” 

The perks of getting the vaccine are hard to resist. With the prospect of being banned from their favorite musician’s concert looming large, America’s youth are likely to agree to the small incon­ve­nience of a vaccine in order to resume a somewhat-normal life. The issue, however, is that mRNA vac­cines like the Moderna vaccine being offered to Hillsdale stu­dents have never before been approved for use in humans. Behind its innocuous name lie serious problems that must be pre­sented to stu­dents before they walk into Hillsdale High on April 2. 

First, stu­dents should know that “COVID-19 vac­cines have only been given con­di­tional approval for emer­gency use. In the next two years, it will be reviewed whether their ben­efits really out­weigh their risks,” according to Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, former chair of the Institute of Medical Micro­bi­ology and Hygiene at the Johannes Gutenberg Uni­versity of Mainz in west-central Germany. 

What’s more, the vaccine is unnec­essary for college stu­dents — and even for older faculty and staff members. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Pre­vention, the sur­vival rate for COVID-19 among people aged 20 years and younger is 99.997%, while the rate for those aged 20 – 49 years is 99.98%. The rate for those aged 50 – 69 years is 99.5%. Why risk entering yourself in an ongoing exper­iment for those numbers?

According to former Pfizer Vice Pres­ident and Chief Science Officer Dr. Mike Yeadon, “pro­tection is needed only by those at notably ele­vated risk of death from the virus. In those people, there might even be an argument that the risks are worth bearing,” he said. “But those in good health and younger than 60 years, even perhaps a little older, don’t perish from the virus. In this large group, it’s wholly unethical to admin­ister some­thing novel and for which the potential for unwanted effects after a few months is com­pletely uncharacterized.”

Addi­tionally, there are serious health risks asso­ciated with the vaccine that the general public has not dis­cussed, according to Yeadon and Bhakdi. For example, Bhakdi asserted that the vaccine increases the risk of blood clotting in those who take it. After the vaccine enters the blood­stream, it binds to cells that line blood vessels and induces them to produce the virus protein. Then, Bhakdi said, “many copies of the virus spike will appear on the cell surface. These may directly bind and activate blood platelets, which will trigger blood clotting.”

Blood clots have the potential to cause serious health problems and even death, Bhakdi warned.

“Trig­gering clot for­mation in your vessels is always poten­tially life-threat­ening. If clots form at vul­nerable sites in the brain, spinal cord, and heart, inter­ruption of blood flow may have irre­versible and even fatal effects,” he said.

Another concern stems from the fact that the COVID-19 vaccine causes our cells to produce the virus protein them­selves, which is a feature of mRNA vac­cines, rather than directly intro­ducing the virus protein into the body like a tra­di­tional vaccine would.

“Cells pro­ducing the spike protein may be attacked by our own immune system, because the immune system is trained to rec­ognize and destroy cells that produce the virus,” Bhakdi said. “Damage to the blood vessel lining must be expected to cause the blood to clot as well. The fact is likely mag­nified in indi­viduals receiving their second vac­ci­na­tions, as well as in patients who have been infected with any coro­n­avirus shortly before or after vaccination.”

Bhakdi sus­pects that the blood-clotting risks could be respon­sible for unnec­essary deaths, and pose a threat to people of all ages.

Newsweek con­firmed in a March 8 article that 970 people had died after receiving the Moderna and Pfizer vac­cines. The data was drawn from VAERS, which is a “U.S.-based early warning system for vaccine side-effects,” according to the article.

At the end of the day, whether or not to walk into Hillsdale High and receive the exper­i­mental COVID-19 vaccine this Friday is a per­sonal decision that each student must make for himself. However, it’s essential to look at the risks as well as the potential con­ve­niences that may accompany an injection.

 

Ashley Kaitz is a sophomore George Wash­ington Fellow studying classics. She is an assistant editor for The Collegian.