As mentioned in previous pieces, I am keeping my powder dry on the imminent COVID-19 vaccine, neither advocating nor discouraging its use. What frightens me greatly is the power, and desire of the state to force people to take the vaccine, encouraged by corporate interests seeking to gain legal cover by refusing service to any unvaccinated.
My letter to my governor (Florida) regarding this threat:
Dear Governor DeSantis,
With the imminent arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine, there are new questions that our state will face. Unlike established vaccines that have a long track record both of disease prevention AND safe side effect profiles, this mRNA vaccine will be a new agent. While the safety protocols are doubtless being followed by the manufacturer and the regulatory agencies, we still will not have had a large population exposed over a longer period of time for further surveillance.
Any vaccine – let alone a new, revolutionary one – will have risks and benefits for each recipient, who should have autonomy in the decision of whether to receive it or not. An elderly immunosuppressed patient may be judged to gain much more potential benefit from this vaccine than a younger person who had already contracted the virus and recovered. I propose to you that the decision whether to administer this new vaccine should still remain between the physician and the patient, without external coercion. I am extremely concerned that government mandates might force individuals to receive this new treatment rather than allowing them to choose for themselves. I am particularly worried that the state will use their authority over our professional licenses to force health care workers to receive this new vaccine. I urge you to provide safeguards for our citizens including health care workers to protect our individual autonomy in our health care decision making, without fear of loss of livelihood.
Thank you for your attention.
Patrick Conrad, MD