Vaccine hesitant explain stance

(Editor’s note: The Republic-Times is not presenting these viewpoints in this story as fact. The objective of this story is to provide insight from residents who do not appear likely to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For our February article on common misconceptions, myths and concerns about the vaccine, visit  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 26 percent of Monroe County residents are either hesitant  or strongly hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey conducted in March, it estimates 18 percent of residents are hesitant, while 8 percent are strongly hesitant. 

Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner has expressed concern that a high percentage of the population remaining unvaccinated could allow the virus to mutate until it becomes more dangerous or resistant to vaccines. This is a warning shared by many health officials. 

With about a quarter of the county’s residents unlikely to get the vaccine, the Republic-Times spoke with four individuals about their hesitations. Three of those people asked to not have their names printed, so they are identified only by their cities. 

One other person, who also wished to remain anonymous, contacted the paper saying he or she “would lose everything I own and still not ever take that disgusting shot,” citing claims about “Bill Gates and his depopulation agenda,” “the end times,” “liquid software” and the “Khazarian mafia.”

In the interest of brevity, that individual’s responses are not included in this story.

Aside from that person, most of the reasons given by residents related mainly to health concerns. 

One Waterloo resident said his/her employer was pushing all employees to be vaccinated, but the reader was hesitant because of previous anaphylactic reactions to medicines. 

“I am seeing lots of reports that people who have allergies are more likely to experience severe reactions,” this person said. “I came to a point where I was OK with it and that I would just stay longer to be monitored.” 

This individual changed  his/her mind after seeing one person who got the vaccine being allowed to leave before completing their observation period at a retailer. 

Another factor was research this person did after his/her doctor did not provide “a clear answer” on whether the reader should get the vaccine. 

“If I had an allergic reaction the only option is an epinephrine injection; however, I take two oral drugs daily that have severe contradictions when used in combination with the epinephrine,” the Waterloo resident said. “I am nervous and conflicted.  Taking myself off of the oral drugs would not be beneficial, but I am afraid of what could happen if I have a reaction to the vaccine and need epinephrine. To me, it’s not as simple as everyone says to just get vaccinated.”

Personal medical history also played a factor in Tyler Cooley’s decision to not get vaccinated. 

A Waterloo resident, Cooley works in dietary at Oak Hill and had the opportunity to receive the vaccine through the county-run senior care facility. 

As a high school student, however, Cooley needed parental accompaniment to get the shot, and he was unable to get it at the first chance. 

“I decided I wasn’t going to worry about it for many reasons,” Cooley said. “I wear my mask and I (use sanitizer) all the time, and so far, thank goodness, I haven’t gotten COVID.” 

Cooley also said he was in a car accident several months ago, leaving him with daily body aches. 

He said he was concerned the vaccine’s side effects would be worse for him. 

“The side effects would severely affect me,” Cooley said. “I feel like it would make it a lot worse than it should be.” 

A Columbia resident similarly said part of what concerns him/her about the shot is that he/she already has “many chronic illnesses.” 

“No one had any clue how the vaccine reacts with all the medicines and illnesses,” this person said. “I take 48 pills a day. How did the scientists have any time to test reactions? I do not want to be a guinea pig!”

This resident also said he/she was “disgusted” after finding “articles that state there was aborted male fetuses that the scientists used the material from.” 

To be clear, none of the vaccines contain fetal tissue. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines do not require the use of any fetal cell cultures in their production process, though fetal cells were used as “proof of concept” early in the development, per a North Dakota Department of Health document cited by Reuters News Service when examining this claim. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine did require the use of fetal cell cultures in its production, according to that document. 

This person also had concerns about the speed with which the vaccines were developed.

“I also believe all vaccines were rushed way too fast to know what the long-term side effects will be,” this individual said. “Every time someone gets one of these shots, it’s like they are playing Russian Roulette. The countries that stopped using the Johnson & Johnson shot because of blood clots believe it just isn’t safe, but the U.S. decided that less than a dozen cases is nothing and your risk is low. Would the ones that made this decision be willing to get this shot?”

Still, this person acknowledged COVID has killed many and made many more quite ill – potentially for the long-term – and caused harmful issues due to precautions put in place.  

“I understand that there are many ignorant people who refused to take this serious and refused to wear masks, practice safe social distancing and complained very loudly about their rights being infringed upon,” the Columbia resident said. “I do not mind wearing a mask. I actually feel very safe wearing it… I wash my hands very often, I use a lot of hand sanitizer and I should get stock in Lysol.” 

Another Columbia resident “reluctantly” received both doses of the Moderna one. 

This person said he/she “got quite sick” after the first dose, but “felt pressured to get it so I could see my mom in (her) nursing home.” 

“I wish my 29-year-old daughter had not gotten it,” this individual said. “I do worry about fertility issues. A Washington University doctor actually talked about having menstrual problems since getting the vaccine, and then others did, too.” 

This person was also concerned about the speed with which the vaccines were created. 

“It was pushed through way too fast out of desperation because no other alternatives,” he/she said.  “They try to say that they just went around the ‘red tape,’ but there are reasons for stages of clinical trials.  I pray all who received it don’t end up regretting it down the road, myself included! And there is no way I would let my young children take it.” 

Again, for the sake of clarity, each COVID vaccine went through multiple stages of clinical trials with tens of thousands of participants prior to FDA emergency use approval.

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James Moss

James is an alumni of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where he graduated summa cum laude with degrees in mass communications and applied communications studies. While in school, he interned at two newspapers and worked at a local grocery store to pay for his education. When not working for the Republic-Times, he enjoys watching movies, reading, playing video games and spending time with his friends.
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