By Bir Krishna Goswami
To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate that is the Question!
The answer to this question is not so simple. In this short essay I would like to present my thought processes.
First of all, I do not blindly accept any of the information that has been presented in the lay media either pro or con. In addition before making any decision especially decisions regarding health, I weigh different factors; especially the risk factors.
Everything we do in this world is risky. As we hear from the Bhagavatam there is “danger at every step.” As far as accidents are concerned, it appears that most occur at home. Then some occur at public places, the work place and of course on the road. But no one would avoid one’s home
Of course, accidents are not the only cause of bodily harm or death. There are diseases, trauma (physical and mental), medical malpractice, etc.
Living in this world means constantly making judgments to minimize risk. However one can never eliminate risk.
For example a few years ago I had a problem with a hernia. If left untreated there was the risk of intestinal strangulation. If I had the operation there was a risk of a doctor making a mistake, the anesthesiologist making a mistake, me having a reaction to the procedure, etc. I made a judgment call and decided that the operation posed less of risk than intestinal strangulation and the risky emergency procedure and consequent after effects.
When I enter a car, I wear seat belts regardless of whether I have to according to the law. Sometimes I am in India out side of major cities and still I wear a seat belt even if the driver is making fun of me for doing so, stating that I am not depending on Krishna. I understand that under certain situations seat belts can cause more injuries than they prevent. However I weigh the possibilities and come to the conclusion there is a greater chance of survival in a car accident if I wear a seat belt
Getting back to the subject of the covid vaccine: yes, there is some risk of adverse effects from taking the vaccine. The statistics show that the risk is far less than not taking the vaccine, but there is a risk.
I am not going to present the statistics as they are available for all to see although these statistics are oftentimes misinterpreted. This is because most people do not understand the difference between causality and correlation. Every scientist gets this drilled into his head in his basic training. That is my background.
Let me give you a funny example that proves the point: There is 100% correlation between people who eat and people who eventually die. Yet, can we say that eating is the cause of death?
Apart from weighing the risks from either taking the vaccine or not, it was important for me to understand how the different vaccines work. Having an in-depth knowledge of cellular biology helped me understand this matter. I did not rely on the popular media, or someone’s opinion. I relied on scientific knowledge.
Therefore, I decided to take the vaccine. It is now over 1 month since I took the vaccine and so far I am still alive with no side effects. Of course there were some normal effects for 2-3 days after taking the vaccine. These effects were due to my immune system getting primed to fight the virus. The vaccine and any adjustments it made in my body are long gone, except for the enhanced immune response to the virus.
In conclusion I advise people to decide for themselves. Weigh the risk factors, try to understand the workings and ingredients of the vaccine, and consult those who have scientific knowledge of the above factors. It is an individual decision and no one should make the decision for you.
Yours in Srila Prabhupada’s service,
Bir Krishna das Goswami