"If somebody doesn't trust the information that is available on what I believe are very trusted sources, I don't know that you can convince them without sitting down and connecting with them on a personal level," Venditto said. "I think the challenge that we face as a society is getting enough of those people, leaders in the community, to actually sit down and serve in that capacity."
Reporter Jan Hoffman sums it up: "A week here in Greene County reveals a more nuanced, layered hesitancy than surveys suggest. People say that politics isn’t the leading driver of their vaccine attitudes. The most common reason for their apprehension is fear — that the vaccine was developed in haste, that long-term side effects are unknown. Their decisions are also entangled in a web of views about bodily autonomy, science and authority, plus a powerful regional, somewhat romanticized self-image: We don’t like outsiders messing in our business."
That should settle the matter, Venditto said: "I don't think that we're going to be able to get more data to suggest that they are any more safer than what we already have collected. And so, for people who are waiting to see, we have enough data. I don't know that waiting any more is going to generate anything more convincing than what we already have."
- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95% effective in preventing Covid-19 in those without prior infection and 100% effective at preventing severe disease.
- The Moderna vaccine is 94.1% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in people in those without prior infection. The efficacy rate dropped to 86.4% in people 65 and older.
- The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a 72% overall efficacy rate and an 86% efficacy rate against severe disease in the U.S.
Dr. Lewis patiently addressed the Fletchers’ questions, delineating between what researchers do and don’t yet know.
“How can we be sure there are no chips in the vaccine, like the things you put in your dog?” Mr. Fletcher asked.
“We can’t make microchips that small,” Dr. Lewis countered.
“Well, it’s like a grain of rice,” said Mr. Fletcher.
“I couldn’t inject a grain of rice with a needle,” Dr. Lewis said.
Dr. Lewis held up his smartphone. If you’re worried about being tracked, he said, all the technology is right here, in the very thing you pick up every day. Every hour.
The Fletchers [he is a retired telecommunications engineer] looked abashed.
“It’s your decision,” Dr. Lewis said gently. “I just want you to be able to make an informed decision and I want to do the best I can to help you.”
Mr. Fletcher replied, “Well, we have to spend some time in discussion.”
Later, Dr. Lewis was optimistic: “I think I can eventually persuade them.”
To date, the Fletchers say they will not take the vaccine.