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Locals discuss vaccine hesitancy

With Prince Edward County now celebrating its 10,000th COVID-19 vaccine shot being administered this week and the commonwealth only days away from opening vaccine registration to everyone age 16 or older, the community is making major headway on the immunization front.

But with most community members anxiously rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated, there are still those who say they will never get the vaccine.

Taking to Facebook to express their opinions, locals cited everything from potential side effects to theories of population control as to why they will be declining the shot when their turn comes.

“I have kidney disease, GI (gastro-intestinal) issues, chronic pain and will not ever get the vaccine,” Facebook commenter Robin Reece Jennings wrote. “Too many side effects and no (proof) that it will not make it worse, nor is it effective.”

A recent poll from Monmouth University said 25% of Americans will decline to receive the vaccine.

Side effects are a common concern listed among those who plan on foregoing the COVID-19 vaccine, a flame stoked this week after federal health officials recommended states pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine following six cases of a rare blood clotting disorder.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been administered to more than 7 million people in the U.S.

“I am just saying that I know medicine has to go through a rigorous amount of testing that takes years before being approved, and even then it can still cause problems,” Jennings continued.

Local Breanne Hicks had similar concerns. Hicks said she has an autoimmune disease and worries the side effects of the vaccine may trigger her disease to move out of remission.

“Having a vaccine doesn’t make you immune to the virus,” she said. “I’d rather see a treatment developed.”

Resident Holly Chappell Aitken said she believes the public needs to build up a natural immunity to the virus, adding she has never had a flu shot and has no plans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I just feel you need a natural (immunity) to these things, and who knows what other side effects are going to come about not only with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but the others as well, maybe not now but in the future,” she said.

Aitken wasn’t the only resident to bring up their past history with shots when discussing the COVID-19 vaccine.

Resident Steph McDaniel said she hasn’t had a vaccine in more than 27 years and will never get one again, COVID-19 vaccine included.

McDaniel said she believes vaccines, especially if administered yearly, will eventually trigger autoimmune disorders.

“God gave us an immune system which functions best when not triggered often and is not poisoned,” she stated. “The survival rate is over 97% anyway. Therefore, our immune systems were doing just fine.”

Community member Leslee Carles said she has not had a flu shot in more than 20 years and has not once contracted the flu during that time.

“It’s population control people,” Carles speculated in a Facebook comment. “Open your eyes.”

“You’ve been watching too many X-Files,” replied another commenter.