The letter below is a letter I wrote in response to someone asking me about my thought process regarding COVID-19 vaccines.


Thank you for taking the time to listen to me. We’ll see how well I communicate this. I also apologize for taking some time to answer; I wanted to do it right.

First, I want to say that my target for this conversation is clarity, not persuasion. I want to clarify my position relative to yours, not persuade you. That would be a waste of both of our time to attempt.

Now, about my thought process: there are many facets to my decision, some based on math, some not. I’ll start with the math-based ones.

According to the CDC, there have been about 33 million cases of COVID in the US. If we take that as an average probability that I will have COVID myself, I have a 10% chance of getting COVID. (Assuming a population of 330 million.) Of course, that assumption might not hold, but there have been people getting reinfected, so it seems like a good enough assumption for now.

A 10% chance of getting COVID, plus a 0.03% chance of dying from COVID for my age group, leads to a total chance of dying from COVID to be 0.003%.

On the other hand, the CDC reports that they have received 1148 reports of myocarditis and pericarditis in people from my age group. If we assume that all of the vaccinations for the population 18 and older was given to people in my age group, we get a 1148/178,478,720 chance of having either of those two problems. That is a 0.00064% chance of getting heart inflammation from a vaccine. Except that not all of those vaccinations were given to people my age. If we subtract all of the vaccinations for people 65 and older, we get 1148/129520089, which is a 0.000886% chance. That still looks better than taking my chances with COVID itself. Except that not all of those vaccinations are people of my age group.

According to the CDC, my age group is 28% of the people who are vaccinated. (Actually, even that is high because the two age groups that contain mine, 18-24 and 25-39, are too large, but we will go with it.) If we take the 28% times the number of people with one dose, 188,996,475, we get 52,919,013. The number 1148/52,919,013 works out to 0.00217%. That is a greater chance than taking my chances with COVID.

You might be tempted to say that heart inflammation and death are not comparable. You are right, but the CDC reports 6,207 people that died soon after getting the vaccines. That number is across all people that get the vaccines, so 6,207/188,996,475 is 0.00328%. That’s about as bad as COVID alone. Add that to the heart inflammation, and the vaccines don’t look so good for people my age anymore, even with the fact that not all of those deaths may be related to the vaccines because most deaths from COVID (94%) happen in people with additional underlying conditions.

But even with all of that, we are forgetting several big things:

  • There are more problems with the vaccines than just heart inflammation.
  • We don’t know the long-term effects of the vaccines.
  • I am at the age when I am trying to have children, and we don’t know enough about how the vaccines affect the reproductive system.
  • People who have allergies were initially told to not get the vaccines by the UK National Health Service, and I have some allergies.

For the first, I could run more numbers, but for the last two, I really can’t. I can’t even quantify the risk on those, except that I can look at the existing adverse events and attempt to extrapolate. To me, especially since I want children, the extrapolation does not look good.

Add to that the fact that the vaccines, while still effective for the Delta variant, are less effective for it; you can still get sick.

Add to that the fact that, in general, pandemics fade away as the diseases become less deadly over time, and taking a vaccine for only a temporary benefit does not look good against the possibility of permanent damage, especially to having children.

By the way, the vaccines do not prevent COVID from mutating when vaccinated people are infected; that always happens.

One thing that really matters is the lack of long-term studies on the effects of the new mRNA vaccines. While the normal vaccines can claim some evidence from other vaccines (although, as you should know, implementation matters more than theory, so that evidence is still weak because the normal COVID vaccines could still be implemented poorly), the mRNA vaccines have no evidence of long-term effects at all.

So where are the long-term experiments? Well, we are the experiment. The vaccines only have an Emergency Use Authorization; they are not approved for general use yet. (Though you already knew that.) That means that this time, the pharma companies got a pass. Normally, there is a healthy skepticism of the pharma companies, but for some reason, people ignore that skepticism for the COVID vaccines. That makes no sense to me.

On top of that, the pharma companies accept no liability for the vaccines, so if something bad happens, I have to turn to the government for relief. And regardless of who is in power, I don’t trust the government. In fact, since the government would have to shell out for an adverse event that happens for me, you could say that doing the best thing for me really would be the best thing for society because society would pay if I end up suffering.

Yes, I would argue that the best thing for society is not necessarily that everyone is vaccinated, but that everyone makes the best decision for themselves. I believe this is because society benefits from the most people making the decision that gives the most benefit for themselves (within reason) because then society has the fewest people to support and the most people that can take care of themselves.

Also, one thing that makes me nervous is this: if vaccines may not be safe for people with allergies, why would they be safe for everyone else? They could be, but it could be that the vaccines are simply worse for those with allergies, that they are bad for everyone, and that we don’t know it yet; this is yet another reason that more testing is needed.

And all of that does not take into account one big possibility: that most adults in the US may have already had COVID. The National Institutes of Health say that natural immunity is lasting, so if there is a good chance I have already had COVID, why get the vaccine?

On that note, there is a possibility that I had COVID at one point; I had what I thought was a common cold at a time when it was not cold season. So there is an even greater possibility that the vaccine would not be very useful, and quite risky, for me.

I also believe that people are responsible for their own health, not the health of others. Some may disagree, saying that I could spread COVID to others. My response is that those others who wish to have protection can take the vaccines. The response to my response is probably that there are people who can’t take the vaccines, so I need to do my part. Well, in that case, I only remind you what I said above, that if the vaccines are not safe for some, they may actually not be safe for anyone; we just may not know it yet.

And all of that does not even address the social and political issues.

I see people on Twitter and other public forums shaming others for not getting vaccinated. They also encourage others to do so in real life. (One person I used to follow on Twitter encouraged a follower to, at family gatherings, tail the members of his own extended family that are unvaccinated and yell, “UNVACCINATED!” at others to shame his family members.) I see governments instituting carrot and stick incentives to get the vaccines. The carrots are really insipid (lotteries), and the sticks are excessive (jail or shunning from society).

These make me nervous, especially the sticks. This makes me think it is less about the virus and more about control. This looks like authoritarianism to me, and beyond the thought process I made above, I had one big pressing concern: I do not want authoritarianism to take over.

You may disagree that authoritarianism is growing, and if you do, I hope you are right. But that is what I see.

So I decided to draw a line, and I decided that my line against authoritarianism is being experimented on.

I understand that drawing this line in the face of growing authoritarianism is dangerous for me; I understand that, if I am right, I am soon to become a second-class citizen in the country that is supposed to be the freest on Earth. I have accepted that, for when I was younger, I took an oath to the Constitution of the United States, and I will stand by that oath and the Constitution, even if it means that I face persecution or worse. No, I am not going to rise up in rebellion; I’m not that stupid. But I am ready to stand for what I believe in even if it means risking my life and liberty.

Anyway, I hope this clarifies my thought process. I hope you find it useful. I have also published it on my blog. I took out your name and any identifying information.

Thank you for your time.

Gavin Howard