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Vaccinations and Probabilities

risk and reward analysis

Vaccines that protect against COVID-19 infections and illness are readily available to most of the U.S. populations. These vaccines went through an expedited, but rigorous, approval process. They appear to be highly effective and safe. The incidence of side-effects is extremely low. With this efficacy risk profile, there should be little hesitancy in being vaccinated. However, some individuals remain hesitant to receive the vaccines.

There may be a very small number of medical conditions that make vaccinates ill-advised. A few people may be suspicious of all vaccines despite the overwhelming evidence supporting their benefits. Others may argue that the COVID-19 vaccines are too new, but evidence so far shows a massive reward vs. risk profile. The probability of death or serious illness is far higher from COVID-19 than the extremely low probability of serious vaccine-induced adverse reactions.

Still there are individuals who are willing to take their chances. This seems to be particularly the case with young adults who are less likely to die from COVID-19. There is a reasonable probability that if one does not become vaccinated, they might not become infected or suffer few or no ill effects. Individuals should be able choose or decide not to take actions provided that their choice does not harm others.

The problem is that the decision to get or not get vaccinated affects not only oneself. Choosing not to get vaccinated puts others at risk because unvaccinated individuals can spread COVID-19 to others. To make matters worse, each infected individual whether they have symptoms can serve as a petri dish in which the virus can mutate. Some mutations may be harmless. In other cases, the mutations may produce variants that are even more infectious or harmful.

The more individuals who serve as incubators for the virus, the higher the probability that more harmful variants will occur. In the worst case, variants may be produced that are no longer susceptible to current vaccines. That would set us all back to square one with the possibility of a new pandemic.

At ABS, many of our staff are already vaccinated. We are encouraging vaccinations by offering paid time for vaccinations even if the vaccinations occur during non-work hours. We will also bring vaccinations onsite if enough employees are interested. We are not mandating vaccinations, but we will require that non-vaccinated individuals limit contact with other employees and wear masks until this threat has passed as determined by public health officials. Soon we will have a company party for all vaccinated employees to celebrate our efforts in getting through these difficult times. We hope that by then everyone will attend and will be fully vaccinated to reduce the probability of harm to themselves, their families, other employees, and our community.

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