To be or not to be… vaccinated?

by Milan Vodicka, Ph.D.

Are you making sense from the flood of words, statements and proclamations around “should I get vaccinated against COVID-19 or not?” Irrespective, the inescapable truth steps in. Both action and inaction will have consequences.

What will those consequences be? Will they emerge from “facts” posited against “beliefs? What to do?

In order to sort out the various verbal approaches, it is needed to apply a straightforward, unquestionable and undeniable logic. This, of course, requires clear common meanings ascribed to any term used, including the meanings of assumptions.

Let me illustrate to you where this comes from, for me. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was a student of the Faculty of Technical and Nuclear Physics of the Czech Technical University. Starting the studies, the very first lecture in mathematics, by professor Alois Apfelbeck (yes, you can read about him on https://cs.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alois_Apfelbeck, use Google translation to English) was made notable by his introductory words: “…eighty to ninety percent of what you have in your heads is literally a cow’s manure. We have to get rid of that.” The rigor of studies that followed actually provided a testament to that.

The “cow’s manure” – designated “BS” in our culture – manifests itself daily within the COVID vaccination discourse. Unfortunately, also in forms “you cannot fix stupid” denials of obvious and apparent truths. “Personal freedom” as the opposite of “public health?” Really?

Here is a mini-lesson in logic. Limited to two variables, “if A then B ” is the logic equivalent to “if not B then not A.” Let us apply this to the COVID situation. Stipulate that A is a COVID infectious virus causing B, a COVID illness itself. Restated, if there is COVID present, the illness is present. Therefore, based on logic, if the illness is not present, there cannot be COVID virus present.

OK, we might think, “yes, but… how about the incubation latency,” or “how about the ‘breakthrough’ asymptomatic infections, even for vaccinated people?” Such thoughts just obscure the fundamental conclusions of the above analysis. These conclusions, with a goal of eliminating the illness, are 1/ eliminate the virus, or 2/ eliminate (exclusively) the illness, or 3/ eliminate (non-exclusively) both.

Based on the available data, the vaccination eliminates the illness (with efficacy over 90%). If someone, anyone, wishes to eliminate the virus, one way to progress to this goal is to get vaccinated.

In mathematics there are correct and incorrect answers. Any answer can be assessed as being correct or incorrect, with certainty. Why is that? What makes mathematics different from everyday ordinary life “questions and answers?” Why there is not one unique and valid answer to “should I get vaccinated or not?”

In mathematics, participants clearly and uniquely define what they are talking about. They require proof for anything stated. They have a common set of rules that everyone follows. Not so in our common world. Hence, the “confusion,” aka “the cow’s manure.”

Well, there is a unique and valid answer. “Assuming the person does not want to promulgate the risk of the COVID illness to oneself and/or others, everyone not disqualified by individual medical conditions should get vaccinated.”

There are two footnotes to this. One, ignorance or disregard of the above assumption – “I do not get sick.” “No one, especially ‘the government,’ will be mandating the vaccination.” And so on. Two, the decision is still based on probability, not certainty.

The certainty, however looked at, is not certain. It is not certain that the sun will rise tomorrow. There is only the high probability that it will. And even that, for everyone, is qualified by the assumption of being alive, in order to actually see it.

When faced with the prospect of the open heart surgery, my doctor advised me that “with the probability of 3% you will not survive the operation.” What was on the other side of it? “80% probability that you will die within weeks.” You can guess what alternative I chose.

And so it is with the COVID vaccinations. Some vaccinated people will still get infected. Some people will experience side effects after vaccination. On the other side is the possibility of a terrible illness or death for the unvaccinated selves or unvaccinated others, not to mention the consequences for the society and economy. We all – unvaccinated at that time –  remember the year 2020.

The vaccination choice is clear, and it should be clear, to everyone.

 

 

 

 

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