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.