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For the vaccine-hesitant, confirmation bias has led to doubt that vaccines are effective and safe, or worse–a belief that they are ineffective and unsafe.

Data and research continue to offer indisputable evidence that vaccines are effective and safe. A recent study in South Africa of more than 1 million people found that the unvaccinated are five times more likely to get infected with COVID-19 and 20 times more likely to die from infection complications. In fact, the reductions in risk from the vaccines are so sharp that it reduces the risk of mortality from the virus to less than that of influenza. In terms of safety, the same study recorded zero vaccine-related deaths and extremely low chances of side effects – almost all of which resolved quickly without treatment. More importantly, it was found that the risk of developing these same side effects was up to 112% more likely from a COVID-19 infection.

The data is also clear that COVID-19 remains a real threat, with emerging strains such as the omicron variant. The concern is not only for those that contract and survive the virus, but one in three people who have previously been infected are experiencing “long COVID.” With continuing symptoms and damage to the lung, heart and brains, long COVID-19 is considered by many to be the next public health crisis in the making.

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