COVID-19 Vaccination

Why aren't people taking the COVID-19 shot/vaccine? Government failures and other factors discussed.
The COVID-19 vaccine was released in December 2020 and I haven't said anything about it on the blog, podcast, or social media. I firmly believe every man should be decided in their own mind of their actions (Romans 14:5). I've had private conversations with people, but this is a topic and a conversation that should not be on social media. It's an involved conversation, so be prepared for a long post (I'll use headings so you can take breaks if you need to). I understand we live in a society that likes to make "informed" opinion based on the headline—even in academia we are prone to read the introduction and conclusion, without care to the interior. We are a lazy society, but I ask that if you're going to voice an opinion about what I write, please read the entire post.

Why Social Media is a Problem

I remember when Twitter launched. MySpace had been superceded by Facebook, which had recently gotten rid of "is" in the status update. Up until this time, most statements people made were about frivilous things. I recently saw a memory where my Facebook status was "Shiree is yaaaaayyy!" My memory of what was shared on Facebook during that time is mostly events happening on campus, plus pictures of said events, and the occasional YouTube viral video (e.g., Charlie Bit Me and Charlie the Unicorn Goes to Candy Mountain). When Twitter arrived with the 140-character max tweet, people started sharing witty oneliners. Since then Twitter has become a place for people to share their thoughts and opinions in a short and concise manner. This trend bled into Facebook. With the rise of Instagram, it evolved to memes and infographics. The one thing that didn't change is the concise-ness of how these ideas and opinions are shared.

Can you image if your entire Chemistry class was taught in memes or 140-character lectures? What about a math class? As much as I think I would enjoy this in a American History or British Lit, I can see how much of the context and material could get lost here as well.

Certain topics need larger conversations. Unfortunately, most of the heavy hitters on social media deteriorate into the comments section, which never fails to prove just how out of touch people can be. Combine these short slogans and memes with social media algorithms, and many people are in a bubble that may be completely deviod of reality. These bubbles provide no context for what is happening. The first time I realized this was during the first Starbuck Christmas cup controversy. Everyone on my Facebook timeline was in a frenzy about it—not about the cup itself, but about the people who were upset about the cup. I have 1000+ Facebook friends and not one of them was publically expressing outrage against the Starbucks cup. Yet everyone was talking about it as though every other person they encountered was invested in the issue. I found it odd, because I don't generally block or unfriend people over opinion differences, so I imagine my friend group has a diverse array of opinions. This assumption has been proven by the split in opinions of the vaccine in my timeline. So, how did everyone get so worked up about such a trivial thing?

Social media algorithms control what you see and feed you the information you want to hear. Social media is the perfect place for confirmation bias—favoring evidence that supports your theory, and/or reframing evidence to support your theory[1]—to thrive. Especially with the ability to have dissenting opinions filtered from your view. The Netflix documentary The Great Hack shows how this was manipulated to influence elections in multiple countries, including the United States of America.

And this is were many people are getting their information about COVID-19 and the vaccine...

Why the Government and Big Pharma are a Problem

Before COVID-19 took the world by storm, U.S. citizens were dying from diabetes and other diseases directly linked to the Standard American Diet (SAD) and part of the political war between Democrats and Republicans was the question of what to do about health care. People were arguing about the cost of insulin and birth control, and elderly people were struggling to pay for their perscriptions.[2] Now, there's a free COVID-19 vaccine for anyone who wants it, but a large percentage of people aren't taking it. Why?


The image of a tweet pictured above, is circulating on Facebook; I've seen it shared by a number of my friends. I've transcribed the text below:
Part of the reason the pandemic is so bad in the US is because people who are never involved with scientic method are seeing Science unfold in real-time. Errors, evidence, & changing methodology happen 100%, but in public eye, seen as "they have no idea what they're talking about."

Transperency on this scale backfires bc in nearly all other circumstances, science is opaque & mostly provided to public eye through 2nd-3rd sources. People only see the end result, not a process, so anything less than perfect is automatically labeled "deceptive" and "backtracking." @SidewalkSciGuy
For the most part I agree with this person, and this sentiment highlights a lot of the confusion surrounding COVID-19. The fact is, in the beginning, scientist don't know, they hypothesize.

From the beginning, we saw conflicting reports about COVID-19 from the authorities, ranging from "we're all going to die" to "it doesn't exist." The symptoms seemingly changed every week as scientists tried to correlate data. There were outliers, like the man who went to the hospital for kidney failure and ended up diagnosed with COVID-19.[3] There were also the people who were asymptomatic. In the end, we ended up with a list of symptoms to add to a chart trying to help us determine if we have allergies, a cold, or the flu—and now COVID-19.

During the election campaign, Donald Trump was insistent that a vaccine was coming out soon, while other candidates pushed back saying it would take longer. Shockingly, Trump was right and the vaccine was out just after the election. Democrats had been positioning themselves to know more, and be more honest/realistic about the virus than the Trump Administration, but this proved there was information Trump had that they didn't.

From the release of the vaccine, the manufacturers have been admitting that they aren't sure about a lot of things. While they now claim high efficacy rates, there was a concern about whether anitbodies would actually provide immunity, and if they did, for how long. From the jump, the vaccine makers spoke of possibly needing booster shots. Yet it is consistently referred to as a vaccine, which has a connotation of being a lasting immunization, and compared to one and done vaccines. Though the internet now refers to the flu shot as a vaccine, prior to now, I had never heard anyone say "I'm going to get my flu vaccine"—it was always a "flu shot." Instead of highlighting the temporary-ness of the shot, it was presented as a way to return to "normal."

As such, when the number of vaccinations began to rise, all of the previous policies about wearing masks and social distancing started to go out the window. People went back to concerts and dinner parties; people made plans for the 4th of July and gathered with large crowds... All just in time for the 6 month window scientists had predicted. Israel was one of the first countries to get a majority of their population vaccinated; they now have the highest number of cases per day in the world.[4] This suggests the decrease in efficacy is having an effect (or that it is less effective against the delta variant). Yet, the powers that be are still not in agreement about how to handle boosters. The U.S. wants to roll out booster shots for the "fully" vaccinated, but the World Health Organization says it's better to ship those shots to places having trouble getting the first and second doses.[5]

You can bet if the people in charge are confused, the general population is going to be confused too.

The Trust Issue

Many people think confusion and disinformation are the primary reasons for people not getting the vaccine, but in reality, the government and Big Pharma have a record of being untrustworthy. For the sake of time, lets focus on medical research funded by the government.

In 1932 the government started the Tuskegee Syphillis Experiment. Initially called the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male," the experiement targeted black men. These men were lied to about the purpose of the study and there was no process for informed consent (a major requirement in the IRB process that regulates experiments). They were lured into the experiment with the promise of free medical care, meals, and burial insurance. Despite the fact that Penicillin was widely accepted as an effective treatemnt for syphillis by the early 1940s, participants in the government's study were not treated. These men were left untreated to advance to the late stages of syphillis which can cause permenant damage to the body. The experiment lasted another 30 years after the discovery of Pencillin treatments, only being shut down after a news article brought the experiment to light in the 1970s.[7]

In the 1940s, during World War II, the government decided to test a theory that minorities are more resistant to mustard gas than whites. Offering incentives, they convinced black, Puerto Rican, and Japanese soldiers to participate in a study where they were exposed to mustard gas (which can cause permenant damage, including skin cancer).[9][11] This experiment affected 60,000 men, and these men were never compensated for the damage caused to them despite VA promises to do so.[10] It was classified and kept secret until 1993.

In the 1950s the government had the MK-ULTRA project in which they were trying to discover the secret to mind control. Experimentation for this project included torturing people and lacing their drinks/food with LSD without consent or knowledge. There were even major research universities linked to the research. Not only did government officials target vulnurable populations such as prisoners and people held in detention camps, they carried out experiments in other countries and on their own people. In 1953, Frank Olson, a scientist in the biological warfare division of the CIA, was drugged with LSD during a retreat with his coworkers. A week later, he was dead.[6] The documents about this highly classified project were perged during the Watergate scandal, making it impossible to know the true scope of the project. A set of misplaced files on it was discovered in 1977 and in 1994 the US General Accounting Office released an official report confirming the experiements.[12]

There's more, but let's skip to more recent times shall we?

In 1989, the government sponsored research on the E-Z measles vaccine. Their subjects were 1,500 black and Hispanic babies from poverty stricken families in the Los Angeles area. Consent protocols were breached and babies were given an unlicensed vaccine without the parents' knowledge. The same vaccine is thought to have caused a high infant mortality rate in countries like Haiti.[17]

In the early 90s, the government funded a study targeting black and Hispanic boys aged 6-10 years old. During this study, the young boys were given Fenfluramine to test a theory about predicting violent behavior. Fenfluramine is now a banned substance; it was banned after discovering heart valve defects in some adults who regularly used the drug. Critics have argued that there was little to no scientific value in the study, and the boys were put at risk for no justifiable reason.[15]

Just last year, ICE was accused of forced sterilizations of detainees at the border.[16]

When the vaccine was rolled out, many people in high positions made statements about making sure minorities received the vaccine first; anyone aware of the US's history with medical research would be wary of this. #ItsNotJustTuskegee[18]

Half Truths and Propaganda

Once the vaccine was made available to everyone and leaders realized a large portion of the population were skeptical, efforts to combat (or enhance) skeptism were rolled out. Like masks, the shot was politicized with people making snap judgments about those choosing to or not to take the vaccine. With the aid of social media, it became easy for those in favor of the vaccine to spread the message that people who don't take it are selfish, believe in conspiracy theories, Trump supporters, etc. Similarly, for those against the vaccine, it became easy to build a narrative about freedom and actual misinformation. The truth is, both sides have been using proganda or biased truths.

An example of a biased truth I've seen is on the safety of the vaccine. Those trying to convince everyone to take the shot will say its safe and quote statistics on cases of reactions to the shot. Many will compare these statistics to the risks of common over the counter drugs such as Tylenol or Aleve. In contrast, those who are opposed to the vaccine will say it's not safe, some referencing time to production and others questioning how it affects reproductive health.

The unbiased truth is somewhere in between. While people have died and/or had adverse reactions from the shot, statistics do suggest that the likelihood of severe reactions is rare—like being in a plane crash or getting struck by lightening.[19] However, as much as the authorities would like to dismiss the time frame in which it was studied, there is no substitute for time.

Take the question of affect on fertility, for example. While there isn't evidence to suggest it does have an affect, there isn't evidence to prove it doesn't, either. To do so, they would have to perform at least two studies for women (there would need to be tests on men as well): a test on women of childbearing age who are not pregnant to see if they can become pregnant, and a test on women who are already pregnant to see how it affects the baby. At the least the former would take 9 months to complete, but getting pregnant isn't that simple, it could take the women a few months to conceive. The data from this group would need to be compared to that of the general population to see if the infertility rate is better, worse, or the same. For the latter research, they would need to follow the pregnancy to term as well. In each case they would need to verify healthy babies and the same rates as the general population for premature delivery. In addition, it would be wise to track the babies for awhile to see if any health problems appear within the first couple years of their life. No amount of technology can bypass that time.

Another example of needing time to predict long term safety is more specific to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Johnson & Johnson have already faced litigation for including talc in their powder, which was later found to cause cancer.[20] Recently, they pulled several sunscreens they produce from shelves because they also contain an ingredient that has been found to cause cancer.[21] Johnson & Johnson is also facing a lawsuit in which it is alleged that a hair care line they own causes hair loss.[22] Assumably, none of these issues showed up in initial tests. Likely, they result in multiuse over time. However, with the admission that booster shots are necessary for Moderna and Pfizer (no word on Johnson & Johnson, yet),[23] there is the possibility that continued use could have unexpected consequences.

Will it Change Your DNA?

The vaccines use a new technology that utilizes mRNA to trick the body into producing antibodies without actually giving you the virus.[13] From this stems the theory that the vaccine changes your DNA. Many who are pro-vaccine dismiss this as conspiracy and disinformation, looking at those who are wary of the vaccine for this reason as idiots. Yet, the Univeristy of Massachusetts Medical school website says the following:
Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, we believed that RNA’s primary role was to intermediate between DNA and protein, as we described above. Over the last three decades, those long-held beliefs have been shattered. We have witnessed amazing discoveries with regards to RNA biology, many of which have come from our own labs here at the RTI. In 1998, Andrew Fire and the RTI’s Craig Mello discovered RNA interference (RNAi), in which double-stranded RNA can find and turn off specific genes based on certain sequences (order of the 'words'). RNA Theraputics Institute[14]
While the scientists only claims to use mRNA (which is assumably different from RNAi) in the vaccine, it is possible to alter your genetic code and make changes to your body through the use of RNA.

Is it the Mark of the Beast?

Many are convinced the vaccine is the Mark of the Beast spoken of in Revelation. The main ideas contributing to this belief include the following:
  • the push for it to be mandatory (the outlook that eventually you can't participate in society without it)
  • the belief that the RNA technology used in the vaccine is altering DNA
  • the inclusion of enzymes called luciferase (which sounds like "Lucifer race") in the vaccine
16And he causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. Revelation 13:16-18 NASB
9Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” 12Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14:9-12 NASB
There are a few Biblical issues with assigning the vaccine as the Mark of the Beast.

For starters, the mark is given in the hand or forehead—the vaccine is given in the arm. More importantly, the Mark of the Beast is about worship; it is a counterfeit of the Mark or Seal of God (Exodus 13:9,16; Deuteronomy 6:8; 11:18; Revelation 7:3). When the Bible speaks of taking a mark in the hands and the forehead, it is not speaking of a literal mark it's referring to the manifestation of who you worship.

Your hands represent your actions. What do you do? How do you treat people? How do you spend your time? What do you contribute to society? Your forehead represents your thoughts. Who has your allegience? What is your thought process? How do you perceive the world?

Remember, the Mark of the Beast (Revelation 14:9-12) and blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:29) are the only things listed as unforgivable sins (I personally think they are one and the same). That means whatever the Mark of the Beast is, it's worst than murder and rape, and you can never be forgiven. If you blaspheme the Holy Spirit, you essentially reject the Spirit. You then reject the Holy Spirit's convictions and become unable to discern right from wrong, truth from lie. It's like being blind in the dark with no map to the light, you're just stumbling around trying to find a path (Job 5:14). There's no coming back from that.

Conversely, when you look at a singular act like taking the shot, you have to ask: how does this prohibt me from worshiping God? What is the difference between a person taking the COVID-19 shot versus someone taking the polio vaccine? Further you have to ask: what about the fact that it can be forced on you? I received the polio, mumps, and measles vaccines as a child—I don't even remember taking them. My parents made that decision. The age limit for the shot has been decreasing gradually, currently set at 12. A 12 year old is still subject to their parents' rules. If the age ever drops to where this is a shot for toddlers or elementary kids, you'll have people taking the shot who may not even be able to understand what's happening. Similarly, if I were restrained, someone could easily inject me with the shot without my permission. To say that this is the Mark of the Beast is to say that YHWH would allow someone to be eternally unforgiven for something they didn't choose!

So no, I don't believe the shot itself is the Mark of the Beast. However, if you only feel comfort and safety because of the vaccine, I would advise you to reflect on who your faith truly is in. If you took the shot because you're scared to die, I would advise you to reflect on why you're afraid to die—is it because you don't believe in the promises God has given you, or is it because your kids would be orphans? Basically, I think your decision to take the shot (or any decision you make) could be a symptom (action of the hand) of the Mark of the Beast, if your mind (forehead/thoughts) is not on God.

Footnotes and References

  1. Confirmation Bias. Oxford Reference; visited August 21, 2021
  2. Shawn Radcliffe. "The Price of Prescriptions Overwhelms Fixed-Income Seniors". Healthline. October 16, 2019
  3. I can't find the article I originally read about this specific case, but if you do a quick Google search you will see that COVID-19 is presenting itself as kidney trouble or a heart attack for some people.
  4. Daniel Estrin. "Highly Vaccinated Israel Is Seeing A Dramatic Surge In New COVID Cases. Here's Why". NPR. August 20, 2021
  5. Michaeleen Doucleff. "Why A Push For Boosters Could Make The Pandemic Even Worse". NPR. August 18, 2021
  6. Terry Gross. "The CIA's Secret Quest For Mind Control: Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief'". NPR. September 9, 2019
  7. "The Tuskegee Timeline". Centers for Disease Control & Prevention; visited August 21, 2021
  8. Stephen Kinzer. "From mind control to murder? How a deadly fall revealed the CIA’s darkest secrets". The Guardian. September 6, 2019
  9. "Why the U.S. military exposed minority soldiers to toxic mustard gas. PBS. June 22, 2015
  10. Caitlin Dickerson. "The VA's Broken Promise To Thousands Of Vets Exposed To Mustard Gas". NPR. June 23, 2015
  11. Caitlin Dickerson. "Secret World War II Chemical Experiments Tested Troops By Race". NPR. June 22, 2015
  12. Kat Eschner. "What We Know About the CIA’s Midcentury Mind-Control Project. Smithsonian Magazine. April 13, 2017
  13. "What are mRNA vaccines and how do they work?". US National Library of Medicine. July 20, 2021
  14. "What is RNA?". UMass Medical School: RNA Theraputics Institute; visited August 2021
  15. Philip J. Hilts. "Experiments On Children Are Reviewed. New York Times". April 15, 1998
  16. "ICE, A Whistleblower And Forced Sterilization". NPR. September 22, 2020
  17. Marlene Cimons. "U.S. Measles Experiment Failed To Disclose Risk". Wasington Post. June 17. 1996
  18. Gillian Flaccus. "Role of race in US vaccine rollout gets put to the test". AP News. January 28, 2021
  19. Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 17, 2021
  20. Lisa Girion. "Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder". Reuters. December 14, 2018
  21. "Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Issues Voluntary Recall of Specific NEUTROGENA® and AVEENO® Aerosol Sunscreen Products Due to the Presence of Benzene". Food & Drug Admisitration. July 14, 2021
  22. A. Pawlowski "Woman alleges Johnson & Johnson OGX shampoo can cause hair loss, sues company". Today. July 23, 2021
  23. Cory Stieg. "Booster shots are coming in the fall — but what about people who got the J&J Covid vaccine?". CNBC. August 19, 2021
  24. Vanessa Romo. "Johnson & Johnson Stops Selling Talc-Based Baby Powder In U.S. And Canada". NPR. May 19, 2020
  25. Will Feuer. "Pfizer’s CEO hasn’t gotten his Covid vaccine yet, saying he doesn’t want to cut in line". CNBC. December 14, 2020

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