It is widely understood that the most influential entities in the medical community are highly encouraging individuals to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and if vaccinated, to stay up to date with the latest booster. As COVID-19 continues to mutate into subsequent strains, it is beneficial to have adequate protection against these mutations. Why is it then that some may choose to get vaccinated and others conclude that a vaccination is not an acceptable choice?
It is important I make it clear, that my own personal views about vaccination are irrelevant to the purpose of this article. The intent of this article is, less so, to advise someone whether or not they should be vaccinated, nor to, more disgracefully so, shame someone who chooses to or not to get a COVID-19 vaccination or booster. The purpose of this article is to help shed light on what thought process may be directing someone to get the COVID-19 vaccination or not.
Effectively, this rhetoric surrounding this pandemic has segregated the masses into two groups of people—the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
How does one find themselves in the vaccinated group?
Well, the research that is widely accepted concludes that vaccines are mostly safe and are effective at lessening the symptom severity for those who get the vaccine. Like all medical procedures, there are risks, but again the research supports these vaccines are safe on a large scale. So a person may say, "I don't want to end up extremely sick, in the hospital, or worse. I think I'll get the vaccine." Additionally, one might consider, "Well if I am protected against COVID-19, I am less likely to spread it to others..."
Why then, are so many people against the COVID-19 vaccinations when the research supports its safety? I will try to answer this as best as I understand this. Some people are simply hesitant to get COVID-19 vaccines and some people are just plain against the vaccines.
Choosing to go unvaccinated.
Truthfully, it is difficult to understand the argument from people who are wholesomely against vaccinations. Years of research support the validity and reliability of various vaccinations. To believe that somehow the same research methods are now insufficient, discredits the entire field of medicine even if, somehow, those same research methods were to discredit the safety of any vaccine.
Vaccination hesitancy, however, is a more logical stance that unvaccinated populations may adopt. Common concerns associated with vaccination hesitancy can be addressed using the information provided on the CDC website. Common sentiments of vaccination hesitancy include, "I'll take my chances," or "I've had COVID-19; it wasn't so bad." "If I'm asymptomatic, it doesn't matter if I am vaccinated or not;" "Vaccinated or unvaccinated, you could spread COVID-19 and not even know you've done so; so what makes vaccines so important?"
In short, the conflict between these two perspectives of choosing to be vaccinated or unvaccinated is an ethical dilemma. It is a philosophical debate between two schools of Ethical Philosophy - Deontology versus Hegelianism. A deontological perspective of the vaccinated person says, "I want to be healthy and must keep others healthy at any cost because I have a duty to protect myself and others. Therefore I will bare any risk, large or small, to keep myself and others healthy." Which might also seem contradictory in cases where the risk you are undertaking could be your own health.
Hegelianists believe that each individual has a personal responsibility for their own health and well-being. Therefore, "If the vaccines are, in fact, safe and effective, one should get it to protect themselves while acknowledging that a natural consequence of that choice is that others might benefit from it. Though, none shall be obligated to benefit another." That being said, the hegelianistic perspective of the unvaccinated says, "Why must I get vaccinated if there is not sufficient consequences for me to not get vaccinated?" That comes down to personal risk, which those who operate from a deontological perspective might disregard, as such: the means is more important than the end (e.g. I must be honest, even if it puts me or others in danger). For hegelianists the end is more important than the means (e.g. I will lie to save my own life and the lives of others, even though I am not obligated to do either).
In conclusion, I am unsure if either perspective is more right than the other. Many people may share strong convictions with either perspective, but both perspectives have their strengths and weaknesses. Each perspective would do well to acknowledge their own strengths and weaknesses respectively.
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