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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Some residents continue to voice objections to COVID-19 vaccines

Saravanan Sanjay
Protestors line up on Sept. 18 near West Valley College farmer’s market.

A crowd of anti-vaccination protestors lined the streets near the Saratoga Farmers Market at West Valley College on Sept. 18. They held signs with slogans reading “Prove There Is A Sars2 Covid Virus,” “You’re Not Your Lab Rats” and “Make Choice Free Again.” 

“They marched up and down the street next to the farmers market disrupting customers and vendors from shopping,” wrote Jill Jackneu, a resident of Los Gatos Woods, on the NextDoor platform. “I have no problem with peaceful protesting, but the folks interrupting the farmers market had bull horns and it was impossible to talk to the vendors.”

According to the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, 84.6 percent of Santa Clara County’s eligible population is vaccinated as of Oct. 17; however, a vocal minority of anti-vaccination residents continues to resist vaccination efforts.

One of them is a 60-year-old Saratoga resident who spoke to The Falcon about her opposition to COVID-19 vaccines on the condition that her name not be used.

The woman works for a local real estate firm and  grew up in Los Gatos: Her children went through the Saratoga public education system, and she stayed a housewife for 24 years until her youngest child went to college. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, exercising, cooking and throwing parties.

However, she and her husband, who also grew up in Saratoga, still harbor strong opposition against the COVID-19 vaccine despite both being infected with COVID 19 earlier this year.

“Based on the research I have done, I feel there’s not enough data to prove the effectiveness nor the long-term effects of the vaccine,” she said. “There’s too much government intervention. Mandating these vaccines for our first responders like nurses, doctors and armed forces is making our country weak to enemy [nations].

The sources she cited for her research include American physician Simone Melissa Gold, the founder of the anti-vaccine and pro-hydroxychloroquine group America’s Frontline Doctors, which is known for spreading dangerous COVID-19 misinformation, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr, an American lawyer and anti-vaccine advocate. 

Besides voicing discontent with the government’s role in vaccine distribution and mandates, the resident also claimed that side effects of the vaccine include changes in women’s menstrual cycles and cases of heart inflammation among younger men.

According to the CDC, possible side effects of the vaccines include redness and swelling on the arm injection site, as well as possibilities for dizziness, nausea or fever, but no side effects related to heart risks or changes in menstrual cycles. Recently, a study in Israel has shown that the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine may be associated with a slightly increased risk of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, as reported by The New York Times

However, studies have shown these side effects are rare. In fact, people are more likely to get myocarditis from COVID-19 than from the vaccines. Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Moderna and the Food and Drug Administration have all not seen any evidence of health problems related to fertility or menstruation either, according to NPR.

Dana Henderson, a 52-year-old Westmont resident and SHS Class of 1984 alumni who is pro-vaccine, said he has encountered the arguments of several unvaccinated individuals while working in the construction industry as a senior project manager.

“They don’t want to get the vaccine because they believe it causes heart attacks, blood pressure problems, sterility or things of that nature,” Henderson said. “Ninety nine percent of doctors in the country will tell you to get the vaccine, and now people are out there saying they don’t believe their own doctors, which is a very sad state of affairs.”

Because of the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a set of safety regulations for those working in the construction industry, unvaccinated people in the construction industry who refuse to get the vaccine or follow mask mandates while working are no longer permitted at construction sites.

“Those people cannot come to our job site,” Henderson said. “We are one of those industries where we just cannot bend the rules, unless someone comes to me with an actual medical exemption like allergies or blood clotting problems.”

The construction industry is not the only one that has implemented restrictions for the unvaccinated. Recently, businesses such as Google and Facebook started requiring their employees to get the  vaccine or undergo frequent testing. Santa Clara County advises mandatory vaccination requirements for all personnel in government and business entities. Certain professions like health workers in the state of California must be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs; teachers and state workers who are not vaccinated must submit to weekly testing.

On Oct. 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced the first statewide vaccine mandate for students in private and public schools, which will go into effect one semester after the FDA approves the shot depending on students’ age groups.

Ramifications for the unvaccinated have not only been only limited to employment restrictions, however. Because of the high vaccination rate in Saratoga and neighboring cities, the Saratoga anti-vaxxer said she has received backlash from the community.

“I have a very close friend who said that she’s concerned about me,” she said. “She doesn’t want to stand with my daughter one day when she marries because I died from COVID-19 and can’t be there. I also have a book club member who doesn’t want to come and sit in my family room because I haven’t been vaccinated.”

Despite this and other negative feedback, she continues to maintain her stance against the COVID-19 vaccines and recommendations made by credible medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president.

She believes that rather than advocating for “injecting a synthetic mRNA thing into your system,” Fauci should be telling people the ways to keep their bodies healthy, such as “going to the farmers market to buy the big, fat blueberries full of vitamin C and exercising.” 

As of Oct 15, roughly 218.3 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 188.7 million are fully vaccinated. Current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the U.S. currently averages just under 2,000 COVID-related deaths per day. Up to 99 percent of people experiencing severe illness are the unvaccinated, said Arnab Mukherjea, the chair of the Department of Public Health at California State University, East Bay in an interview with Healthline. Between April and June, 92 percent of COVID-related deaths were from the unvaccinated populations, many of whom are harder to reach in the nation’s vaccination efforts.

 “I know that the anti-vaxxers are more like a cult,” said Henderson, the resident who worked in construction. “So, breaking people out of it is extremely difficult, which can only be done by people that are very close to that individual.” 

To find accurate information regarding COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the CDC website.

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