It’s no one else’s problem if I don’t get vaccinated and get infected

Anke Neustadt

Dr. Jeff Hersh

Q:  If I decide not to get vaccinated for COVID and I get infected, it is my problem and no one else’s.  Why should anyone care? 

A:  COVID-19 is an infectious disease; the almost 900,000 people who have died from it in the U.S. had to “get it” from someone else. New variants of COVID-19 may occur due to mutations of the virus in someone who is infected, so infected people are human “petri dishes” where these new variants may develop. The sheer numbers of people who get infected and require treatment and/or hospitalization may overwhelm the health care system, causing other patients to have their care delayed for such things as surgery and cancer treatments. These are just a couple of the indirect effects of the COVID pandemic that illustrate the weaknesses of the argument “If I decide not to be vaccinated and I get infected, it is my problem and no one else’s”; by definition a pandemic is “a disease prevalent over a whole country or the world”, and so one person’s infection may affect many other people. 

Dr. Jeff Hersh

The omicron variant is clearly much more infectious than prior variants; it is estimated to be five times more infectious than the delta variant.  That is why the number of people becoming infected is skyrocketing.   

Thankfully, omicron is, in general, causing milder disease in many people, especially in people who have been vaccinated and boosted. However, the smaller percentage of those infected that end up hospitalized and/or dying multiplied by the much higher number of people being infected is still yielding very high numbers. Particularly in the unvaccinated and in those with risk factors, too many people are still getting sick enough to require hospitalization and are dying. In fact, COVID hospitalizations in the U.S. recently hit record highs, including the numbers of pediatric patients requiring hospitalization.

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