Opinion | As U.S. Vaccinations Begin, Hope Mixes With Worry

To the Editor:

Re “‘Healing Is Coming’: U.S. Vaccinations Begin” (front page, Dec. 15):

Watching the broadcast of a New York City nurse, Sandra Lindsay, becoming one of the first people in the United States to receive the Covid-19 vaccination outside of clinical trials was a joyous moment. But my sense of hope and optimism is tempered by a sense of awful dread that many Americans will see this moment as the end of this still lethal and terrible crisis.

We are in the midst of the holiday season. Next week will likely be a heavy travel time against the backdrop of record numbers of people becoming infected with the coronavirus daily and many hospitals at or near full capacity.

Yes, this is a time for celebration. But on the other side of the emotional schism is the still urgent need to remain vigilant, since most of us won’t have access to this lifesaving injection until months from now.

Cody Lyon

To the Editor:

One casualty of the continuing pandemic is New York City’s vibrant and important restaurant industry (“Struggling Restaurants Face Bleak Future as Indoor Dining Ban Begins,” news article, Dec. 14).

Trying to find a silver lining in the dark cloud we are still under, I envision restaurants reopening in six to eight weeks and welcoming busloads of nursing home residents and frontline medical workers, fresh from their second dose of Covid vaccine, immune to infection and deserving of the fine dining New York is so proud of.

Mark E. Horowitz
New York
The writer is a family physician.

To the Editor:

Re “Businesses Are Loath to Mandate Vaccine. They May Need To” (DealBook, Dec. 15):

Andrew Ross Sorkin suggests that employers mandate Covid-19 vaccination, but that could backfire, and paradoxically lead to lower acceptance of the vaccine.

Employers can play an important role in encouraging their employees to get vaccinated. They can cover the cost of Covid-19 vaccines and offer employees time off to be vaccinated, especially for the all-important second dose.

But mandating the vaccine prematurely, when vaccine hesitancy remains common, could lead many employees to declare that they don’t want to be vaccinated. Once they state their opposition, they are likely to be more receptive to any reports of adverse vaccine events, so it will be a steep climb to overcome confirmation bias to get them to accept the vaccine later.

I have no doubt that at some point proof of Covid-19 vaccination or immunity will be required for travel and for admission to some venues. Employers would be wise to forgo mandating vaccines until they are readily available, by which time acceptance of the vaccine will have grown substantially.

Jeff Levin-Scherz
Belmont, Mass.
The writer, a doctor, is an assistant professor at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

To the Editor:

As we wait for the F.D.A. to approve more vaccines against coronavirus for use in the United States, let us not forget the story of thalidomide, a sedative used to treat morning sickness in pregnant women in the 1960s. It turned out the drug causes birth defects.

Though thalidomide was used in Britain and Germany, it was never released in the United States, thanks to the work of Dr. Frances Kelsey of the F.D.A.

It was indeed a great moment in the history of bureaucracy that saved many American lives.

Susan Ferguson
Oakland, Calif.
The writer is a primary care doctor.

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