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The Great Health Divide: Those skeptical of COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 1:03 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - As health providers and local, state and federal leaders plead with the public to get the COVID-19 vaccine, nearly half of those eligible to get it either haven’t or won’t.

After steadily rising during the winter and spring, vaccination rates nationwide have plateaued.

A little more than half of the nation’s population is fully vaccinated.

The reasons people have given vary, but people we spoke to-and those who reached out to us on social media-seem to have one common concern.

While some people who posted to our Facebook page were concerned about possible side effects of the vaccine, others we spoke to said it’s about whether the various vaccines introduced have been thoroughly tested.

“This vaccine was rolled out super-fast, and the studies and statistics have been inconsistent across the manufacturers. It’s unstable at this moment,” says Wes Beaver.

Beaver says he isn’t against being vaccinated, and isn’t concerned about the reported “breakthrough cases”. He received the shot for the H1-N1 virus more than a decade ago.

“As fast as these manufacturers rolled these out and the way they’re being pushed, it’s just like, somebody’s making money,” Beaver says. “I haven’t been convinced any of these manufacturers have a complete understanding of how to fight this virus.”

Others who haven’t been vaccinated believe they simply don’t need it.

“I’ve been exposed quite a bit to people who have not been following the protocols,” says Brent Layton. “Nobody, very few people I know have come in contact with it and got it. So I trust my immune system.”

We conducted these interviews before President Joe Biden’s recent announcement mandating vaccines for federal employees and businesses, among others.

But the people who spoke to us on camera, and others commenting on social media, believe it’s up to each individual to decide.

“I believe freedom should never be in a subjective way,” Matt Smith said. “I believe the vaccination should be a personal choice. Do I think it should be mandated (and) criminally punished if you choose not to? Absolutely not.”

Vaccinations soared when just older and elderly populations were eligible for shots last sinter. The number of shots tailed off beginning in the spring, when middle-aged and younger people became eligible.

That may be reflected in the comments we’ve received.

“If you do believe it, no proof is necessary,” Matt Smith says. “If you don’t believe it, no proof will work.”

Nationwide, the number of people getting at least one vaccine dose has trended higher in recent weeks, perhaps due to the ongoing news about the Delta and other variants, and a push from state and federal leaders encouraging people to get shots.

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