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Dr. Anderson: Some data to make your decision on vaccination
larry anderson
Dr. Larry Anderson of Anderson Family Medicine in Dawsonville. - photo by Jessica Taylor

Let’s look at interpreting some data so we can make a good decision on balancing risks versus benefits. 

Recently we have had reports on myocarditis in adolescents receiving the vaccines except for J&J which does not have an indication for those under the age of 18. Let’s try to make some sense out of the numbers, 6,500,000 adolescents have received the vaccine and 226 cases of myocarditis have been reported. That represents 0.004 percent of 6,500,000. 

Of the 226 cases, 203 or 90 percent had mild symptoms. No deaths have been reported. 

Here is where you become the scientist with the following questions. What happened to the other 10 percent? What was the full recovery time for the 203? Did the 203 have any lasting effects? Were there any co-morbidity factors? What was the time frame from the first case to the last case? What was the number of cases by age and gender? You need answers to these questions so you can identify by age and gender where you fit in. 

Now let’s look at the general adolescent population who did not get the vaccine, mainly because it was not available for ages under 18. Data shows that 4,000,000 children under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with COVID-19, 15,000 or 0.003 percent have been hospitalized. The average reported deaths was 450 or 0.003 percent of those hospitalized. Put your scientist hat back on. What’s missing? What is the total number of adolescents? What is the age and gender of those who were hospitalized or died from COVID? Did they have any co-morbidity factors?  What was the time frame from the onset of symptoms to the date of hospitalization? What was the time frame from the onset of symptoms to the date of death? 

Now, how to make the decision. Here is what I do — I look at worse-case scenarios.  If you are under 18, you will have a 0.004 percent chance of myocarditis that is survivable if you take the vaccine. If you do not take the vaccine and get COVID-19, then you have a 0.003 percent chance of dying. You do not get the privilege of choosing what you get. You do not get the answers to your questions before you decide your course of action. 

To me, the better chance is to take the vaccine. The side-effect odds are small but death is permanent. 

Thanks for reading.

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