2021-08-31 To get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated?

Everybody in Switzerland appears to focus on the high number of people with Covid returning from abroad. At the same time, our vaccination rate is one of the lowest in Europe.

Fully vaccinated: 51.57% – Vaccinated people, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, 21.12.2020 to 29.08.2021

Clearly, the vaccine is not 100% effective, but it’s still very good! Since you can get Long Covid even if you don’t go through the hospital, I’m still trying to keep my distance, wear my mask, and wash my hands, of course.

All laboratory confirmed hospitalisations despite full vaccination: 151. Total hospitalisations: 8537. – Cases despite full vaccination, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, 27.01.2021 to 29.08.2021

And yes, the vaccines are probably not harmless. The problem is called adverse vaccination reaction (AVR) and can mean many things, all of them horrible.

Serious adverse vaccination reactions are those that are fatal or life-⁠threatening, require hospitalisation or the extension of hospitalisation, lead to permanent or serious disability or incapacity or manifest in a congenital malformation/birth defect. They also include reactions that are judged to be medically important because they acutely endanger patients or require treatment to prevent a serious outcome. All other side effects are deemed to be non-⁠serious side effects. – Reports of suspected adverse vaccination reactions (AVR)

Keep in mind that this data comes with uncertainty. Here’s from the introduction on the same page.

Swissmedic gathers, verifies and evaluates reports of side effects. To capture this data, Swissmedic operates a so-⁠called spontaneous reporting system. This means that Swissmedic relies on cases of suspected adverse reactions being reported.

This spontaneous reporting system does add a lot of questions!

Qualification of primary reporter: physician 54.8%, pharmacist 9.9%, other health professional 4.9%, lawyer 0.0%, consumer or other non health professional 30.4% – Reports of suspected adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines in Switzerland – update

Let’s look at the numbers nonetheless, on that previous page. Knowing about suspected adverse reactions is better than not knowing anything.

Total AVRs: 5,304. Serious: 1838. Total administered vaccine doses: 9,219,373. – Reports of suspected adverse vaccination reactions (AVR)

1 in 1738 cases is not very cool odds, to be sure. My arm hurt for days after the second shot. This is a non-serious AVR. So perhaps we should only be looking at serious AVRs? That would be 1 in 5016 cases. Still bad!

Sadly, we cannot compare this number to happy days when nothing happens. We need to compare this to the adverse Covid reactions…

Cases: 233,432 – Laboratory-⁠confirmed cases, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, 15.02.2021 to 29.08.2021, Absolute numbers

Cases: 7518 – Laboratory-⁠confirmed hospitalisations, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, 15.02.2021 to 29.08.2021, Absolute numbers

Cases: 980 – Laboratory-⁠confirmed deaths, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, 15.02.2021 to 29.08.2021, Absolute numbers

So, we can talk about age groups, and predispositions, but then again I’m approaching fifty and my dad had asthma, so what does that mean… It seems to me that about 1 in 31 cases end up in the hospital, and 1 in 238 cases die. This is what we need to compare to the 1 in 1738 cases for adverse vaccination reactions, and more importantly to the 1 in 5016 cases for serious adverse vaccination reactions.

I prefer the vaccine!

And we didn’t even talk about Long Covid. As anybody with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or some other debilitating but invisible disease will tell you, this means a constant struggle: to remain employed, for understanding from friends and family, with the insurance companies and the state… It’s terrible. And if it’s not an invisible disease then it’s something else that’s terrible like loosing 20% of your lung volume and other things, preventing you from the physical exercise you used to do in your free time, or strenuous work you used to do to make money, or the holiday activities you used to enjoy. Nope. Don’t want that, either.


Excellent analysis! I wanted to write a comment, but as usual it grew big enough to turn into a reaction on my own blog. Hope you’ll find it palatable enough: It's not how safe the vaccines are (rather, it’s about breaking trust by not telling people what the risks are). Thanks for inspiring me.

Felix 2021-08-31 14:49 UTC

Well, then there’s also this:

Hi, if you are reading this essay then congratulations, you are still alive. And if you are alive, then you have either gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, or you still have the opportunity to get the vaccine against COVID-19. And holy fuck, if you aren’t fucking vaccinated against COVID-19, then you need to get fucking vaccinated right now. I mean, what the fuck? Fuck you. Get vaccinated. Fuck. – Oh My Fucking God, Get the Fucking Vaccine Already, You Fucking Fucks, by Wendy Molyneux, for McSweeney’s

It maintains that tone throughout the article. When I’m overwhelmed by the feeling of being surrounded by people that can’t wear masks, and I wonder how they do their taxes, I sometimes think that perhaps rational arguments just don’t cut it and that Word Magic might be quicker and more effective.

– Alex 2021-09-03 22:42 UTC

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