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Shot In The Dark

Mitch Berg

July 21 2021

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Britain to vaccinate class of people who rarely catch virus.

Imagine you went to the doctor who told you: “Your child has a one-in-a-million chance of catching a particular disease, and if she does catch it, she has a one-in-a-million chance of dying from it. I recommend you authorize me to give her this vaccine.”

You might ask, “Why? What’s the point? She’s not at risk. Why bother?”

Your doctor might say: “It won’t help her, but it’s the neighborly thing to do. Taking the vaccine protects your neighbors so they don’t get the disease. And it’s free, plus I’ll throw in a coupon for an ice cream cone in the hospital cafeteria.”

You might say, “Okay, sounds good. By the way, are there any potential side effects of the vaccine?”

And your doctor might say, “Not really. There’s a one-in-six chance she’ll have a heart attack which is why we make you wait 20 minutes before leaving the office, but most of them survive. Oh, and blood clots and heart inflammation, those are possible, too, and maybe infertility or miscarriage but we really don’t know the long term side effects because the vaccine was rushed through the approval process so quickly and has been in use such a short time. She’ll probably be fine.”

Would you let the doctor vaccinate your daughter under those circumstances, or would you weigh reward-versus-risk and conclude getting vaccinated is a bad idea?


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