A devotee shared a video with Dr Peter Van Houten regarding vaccinations for young people and asked for his thoughts. This was his reply:
I watched a good portion of this video and I share many of this pediatrician’s concerns, especially for those under 18 around these new vaccines. However, the first point we all need to remember is that the main reasons we are encouraging anyone to get vaccinated for COVID 19 is to “end transmission of COVID 19 in society and to dramatically slow the creation of new variants”. With some vaccines we all are familiar with we offer them purely for “personal protection” such as with a tetanus vaccination. For tetanus vaccine one could simply ask, “would you personally like this protection?” There is no “transmission risk” for society with tetanus. It relates only to the individual. COVID 19 has a significant transmission risk. Obviously, having seen what COVID 19 can do we do not want another Lombardy, New York, India or Nepal to happen if we can help it. We also need to remember that we will eventually lose our functioning economies if we keep repeatedly locking down several times a year for months at a time. Vaccinating enough individuals to offer some level of societal immunity (and hence blockage of transmission) appears to be our best solution at this point with COVID 19. Remember India thought they had achieved herd immunity in their society when over 50% people in several cities in India had shown they had antibodies for COVID 19 just from natural exposure. When they opened back up this year even some senior physicians in India felt that herd immunity had likely been achieved. That was three months ago. Do we currently worry about catching polio or smallpox, both highly transmissible and dangerous illnesses? No, polio is almost gone worldwide and smallpox has been eradicated, both through vaccination. Smallpox caused 300-500 million deaths in the 20th century.
When offering COVID 19 vaccine to an individual, I usually explain why we are asking for someone of their age and with their risk factors to consider vaccination. For those 50 and older or someone with health problems it is an easier recommendation since the risk for more serious illness rises quickly after age 40 and some illnesses like diabetes add significant risk. So, someone over 50 should consider vaccination since it will keep them out of the hospital, but, it will also help protect society as whole. For those in their 20s and 30s it is bit harder since if they get sick they may well tolerate the illness better. But, they are also the ones most likely to keep transmitting the virus throughout the community. Yes, it does give the younger people personal protection but more importantly they will help keep Mom, Dad, Grandma, their college professor, and their older neighbors protected. They will also likely want to be able to show vaccination status if they wish to travel internationally or attend college, for example. For those under 20, like teens, it helps block transmission and gives them freedom to travel internationally with family and not risk infecting any older relative or neighbor. Their personal risk from this illness is generally low.
I was one of the first people vaccinated in the US in early January of this year. For me it was an easier decision since it was my duty and I did it for the protection of my patients. Ultimately, for humanity worldwide, this vaccination will be a Kshatriya issue. I think we will need to vaccinate as many people as possible to protect each other whether we think need protection for ourselves personally if we want to see COVID 19 end.
I hope this is helpful. In Master, Peter