By Guy Page
Fact: vaccination and increased incidence of heart disease among young people are linked.
Fact: Compared to previous strains, the Omicron variant is both less deadly and more likely to be transmitted to, and by, both vaccinated and unvaccinated.
Fact: with the Scott administration’s participation and approval, many Vermonters are being forced to choose between keeping their jobs and getting vaccinated against a less dangerous strain that breaks through vaccine protection with ease.
Fact: forced job loss wreaks financial, mental and social havoc on individuals, families, the social safety net and the Vermont worker-starved economy.
With these four facts in mind, at Tuesday’s press conference the Vermont Daily Chronicle took issue with Commissioner Mark Levine’s claim that “the time for thinking about [vaccination] is passed.” We asked Gov. Scott:
“Commissioner Levine said of vaccination, ‘the time for thinking about it is passed.’ Some of my readers are thinking, ‘not so fast’ given some new developments. A 49 year old New York Times editor died on December 18th of a heart attack, a day after he had a booster. Locally, a healthy vaccinated 19-year-old son of a friend of mine is now experiencing heart palpitations that he’s never had before. Also, experts are saying that Omicron is both less dangerous and more likely to result in breakthrough now.
“So my question is, if these developments are true and relevant, how is it still ethical to ‘incentivize’ Vermonters, to use a term you used a couple weeks ago, to vaccinate by taking away their livelihood?”
At Gov. Scott’s request, Commissioner Levine answered:
“I don’t know about these two cases you’ve mentioned. If they are related to the vaccine,it’s tragic. We certainly want to ascertain they were, but the reality is we now deal in hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine when we look at adverse effects and the data from millions, hundreds of millions of doses does not really support a policy that would say these are dangerous and shouldn’t be used. If anything it’s the complete opposite, that they’ve been extraordinarily safe for newly developed vaccines, and efficacious.
“I think your comment on Omicron was the fact that there will be more breakthrough cases, a term we don’t like to use, but you’re right and the reality is yes this is a more infectious variant, and even people who’ve been vaccinated can more easily get Omicron.
“But again that’s not what the vaccine was designed to do – prevent a case of Omicron. The vaccine was designed to prevent a case of Omicron from ever getting so serious that someone would end up in the hospital or God forbid die from it. And the data is backing that up throughout the pandemic with every variant strain that we’ve had.
“So again keep your eye on the right ball – the ball is vaccines are meant to prevent severe outcomes. So just like you can get a cold from getting Omicron and most people who have been vaccinated who get ill get a cold or a mild flu-like illness, their lungs, which are the main place that this virus can do a lot of damage, are very protected. They’re not presenting to the same degree as others who are unvaccinated with shortness of breath, with the need to have x-rays for pneumonia, with ICU admission. So I do believe the data still supports the vaccine very well.”