Column: To Hawaii’s Younger and Unvaccinated: You Want The Shot Now

I write to all people who are under 60 years old and who are still unvaccinated.

Yes, I’m a vintage car, but I was young once, I have young people in my ohana, and I’ve worked with thousands of people in your age range in my career. I hope you keep an open mind and read what I’m about to say.

This is what I hear about why you are not getting the COVID-19 vaccine:

>> I am healthy and will not get infected.

Here are the facts: A whopping 89% of all new COVID cases belong to the under 60s, according to the latest data. Here’s the breakdown: 17% ages 0-17, 25% ages 18-29, 20% ages 30-39, 15% ages 40-49, and 12% ages 50-59 .

>> Even if I get COVID, I won’t get really sick.

Not true. With the recent surge in the delta variant in the Hawaiian Islands, more and more young people are becoming very sick and some are dying. About 56% of people hospitalized with COVID are under 60 years of age. Over 90% of them are not vaccinated. There have been reports of infants in intensive care units. The vaccine won’t kill you, but COVID can.

>> Vaccines contain strange things.

A lot of misinformation about vaccines is spread on social media – for example, that they were made from embryonic tissue or that they contain microchips that alter your genes. All wrong. The current vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna use a technology called “messenger RNA”. Look up to find out the truth.

>> Vaccines are dangerous.

Vaccines are the best protection against infection, serious illness, and death. This is medical science, not just my opinion. The side effects are usually sore muscles and tiredness, which go away after two to three days. Most people under the age of 60 were vaccinated against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough in their childhood, and the vaccinations have protected you from these serious diseases without harm. The US Food and Drug Administration has just given the Pfizer vaccine full approval.

>> I can’t be bothered.

For real? Vaccines are free, they are widely available, they involve two injections into your arm three or four weeks apart. Simple. Most importantly, they protect not only you, but everyone you come in contact with, especially our Kupuna, who are at the highest risk of dying from COVID, and Keiki under 12 who are currently unable to be vaccinated. So it’s not just about you.

My health care colleagues say they have heart disease and are angry at having to treat hundreds of COVID patients who shouldn’t have gotten sick if only had they been vaccinated. Hilo Hospital and Queen’s Hospital recently announced that their intensive care units (intensive care units) are full. Our doctors and nurses are at the limit and they are the real heroes in this sad story.

So my message is: You too can be a hero. Just get vaccinated.

David J. Lam, Ph.D., is a clinical and consulting psychologist with more than 40 years of professional experience.

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