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Behind Closed Doors: Vexed by the Anti-Vax Venom
Conspiracy theories and old-fashioned apathy are holding us back.
Paula Watkins, RN
Publish Date: July 1, 2021   |  Tags:   COVID-19 Opinion

I just spent three weeks at a hospital giving out COVID-19 vaccines. Or at least trying to. The area where I worked was in a huge building with lots of space to accommodate crowds that didn't show. Fourteen vaccine administration booths were set up, each manned with a nurse to give the shot and a person to document the momentous occasion for the CDC and the hospital hosting the vaccination event. The booths were mostly empty. So was the area where a nurse waited to observe newly inoculated individuals to make sure they didn't suffer an adverse reaction.

My contract was scheduled to last 13 weeks, but ended up lasting only three because it turned out that getting people vaxxed was harder than convincing surgeons they're wrong. You can't say we didn't try, though. The vaccine administration area was decorated with balloons and giant welcome signs, and nurses stood outside cheering (and begging) passerbyers to help end the pandemic. As the hours ticked by without much foot traffic, I wondered if we'd have to start canvassing neighborhoods and knocking on doors to meet our vaccination goal.

The rapid production of the COVID-19 vaccine brought all of the top conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork. The "best" theory I've heard so far is that the government is using the vaccine as a way to implant us with tracking devices.

That'd be redundant, even by government standards. The feds already know where you go, what you buy and what you like if you use a computer, have a cellphone, swipe credit cards, bank online, watch TV and rely on Waze to find your way.

Of course, government tracking is only one of the many debunked conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccine. Some people believe the vaccine alters your DNA, "sheds" the virus, causes variants and has somehow been to blame for COVID-19 deaths.

Call me naïve, but it seems to make more sense to trust the healthcare providers and scientists who have been at the forefront of trying to solve this worldwide disaster than to believe dubious, agenda-based pseudo-science. But hey, what do I know? I'm just a travel nurse, not some influencer on social media with thousands of followers.

As this issue went to print, fewer than half of Americans were fully vaccinated. That's not for a lack of effort. Some states are running $1 million vaccine lotteries for people who literally take a shot at the grand prize. Some businesses are offering their employees $100 to get vaccinated or an additional hour's worth of pay just to roll up their sleeves. Still, vaccination rates are lagging across the country.

If cold hard cash won't do the trick, what's it going to take to convince the holdouts? We're talking maybe an hour out of your day. I got my vaccine. The needle was so small that I barely felt the prick. I didn't get sick afterward. My arm was a little sore, but I consider that a small price to pay for gaining immunity from a virus that's caused so much pain, loss and disruption to our daily lives.

Infection rates are decreasing, the warm summer months are upon us and you might be suffering from vaccine fatigue, but there's still work left to be done. Let's team up to convince friends and family to roll up their sleeves so we can avoid the worrisome rise of variants, prevent fall and winter spikes, and finally put an end to this awful pandemic. OSM