Vaccine hesitancy: La Crosse area resident explains why he’s not getting COVID vaccine

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A growing number of people say they are going to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

69 percent of Americans plan to get vaccinated, or already have, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

But there are some people from our area who are choosing not to roll up their sleeves at all.

Doctors continue to strongly recommend that you get vaccinated for COVID-19.

“It’s very safe,” Mayo Clinic Health System infectious disease physician Dr. Abinash Virk said. “It is extremely effective.”

But ultimately, getting the vaccine is your choice.

“There’s way too many things out there screaming ‘no,'” Hixton resident Edwin Johnson.

Johnson, who is 66 years old, claims you have a 99 percent chance of surviving the virus if you contract it.

“With that survival rate, why would I get a vaccine?,” Edwin said.

He also says none of the vaccines are approved by the FDA.

“We are the guinea pigs,” Edwin said.

And because he thinks the vaccine was developed too quickly, he wants no part of getting the shot.

“You know, it’s not a traditional vaccine,” Edwin said.

To date, about 98 percent of all people in the U.S. who have contracted the virus have recovered.

That is a high number of recoveries, but it’s also misleading.

“We have lost over 500,000 people to COVID,” Virk said.

That is about double the population size of Madison.

“Clearly, people are losing their lives from this,” Virk said.

Edwin is right in that the vaccine has not been fully approved by the FDA, but it has been approved for emergency use after rigorous testing.

“Full approval occurs after they have six months of data after full vaccination,” Virk said.

That could happen for Pfizer and Moderna as soon as next month, Virk says.

“We have so much more information on both of these vaccines, that I’m sure they will get FDA approval in the next few months,” Virk added.

Edwin is more vulnerable to getting severely ill from the virus because of his age, but he says he’s not worried about it as much.

“I don’t put my faith in government,” Edwin said. “I don’t put my faith, really in doctors. I put my faith in the Lord, because all the masks, all the vaccine, all the hand sanitizer in the world is not going to save you when it’s your time.”

Dr. Virk says the vaccine saves lives.

“If you care about your family, if you care about yourself, if you care about your community and if you care about your country, please get vaccinated because this is so important,” Virk said.

But Edwin remains adamant that he won’t get vaccinated, and says deaths are something that don’t change.

“And it is tragic when people die,” he said. “But it is part of life.”

Other area residents tell News 8 Now why they are not going to get the COVID vaccine or are undecided about it.

Some feel it was developed too quickly, hasn’t been fully approved by the FDA yet, is too new to the market, and fear it could even be deadly.

But the CDC says the vaccines are safe and effective, and that severe allergic reactions are extremely rare.

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System so far has not seen any patterns that the vaccine causes deaths.