ANDERSON – The note suggested I had left something out. “You failed to mention the thousands of people that have had severe reactions, even death from this experimental drug,” it said. I felt obligated to respond. “The people spouting those claims are lying,” I wrote.

Just to be clear, I wasn’t talking about your Aunt Martha or that cousin who says he’d rather lose his job than roll up his sleeve. I was talking about the people spreading this misinformation, the talk radio hosts and others trying to build an audience or, worse yet, to make a profit.

Millions of people have taken the COVID-19 vaccines with minor side effects or none at all. The overwhelming majority of people getting seriously ill or dying in this pandemic are the ones still resisting the shots. But that message isn’t getting through to everyone. Many still believe the shot is more dangerous than the virus.

One post on social media insists a study from the Francis Crick Institute in London found the Pfizer vaccine destroyed T cells and weakened the immune system. Actually, Dr. David Bauer, one of that study’s authors, says that’s not at all what the research showed. “Our work to date has not studied T cells at all,” he told The Associated Press in an email.

Everyone who has studied that issue, he said, has found the Pfizer and other vaccines generating “a strong, positive, protective T-cell response” against COVID-19.

The Crick Institute study examined how antibodies generated by the vaccines reacted to new strains of the virus. It did find the levels were significantly lower against the delta variant than against the original strain, but even then, researchers found that the vaccines provided more protection than the body’s natural immune system.

Vaccine skeptics also claim manufacturers shut down animal trials because all the animals died. USA Today found that claim to be false. “There is no evidence to suggest all the animals in those pre-clinical trials died as a result of the coronavirus vaccines,” the newspaper said.

Vaccine critics suggest the more we vaccinate in the middle of a pandemic, the more this virus will mutate, but Stuart C. Ray, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University, says the opposite is true.

“The viral evolution is a bit like a ticking clock,” he told Medscape Medical News for an article in late July. “The more we allow infections to occur, the more likely changes will occur. When we have lots of people infected, we give more chances to the virus to diversify and then adapt to selective pressures.”

Lewis Nelson, chief of the division of medical toxicology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, added that if allowed to keep mutating, the virus would eventually render the vaccine ineffective. The good news, he said, is that scientists might be able to develop a new vaccine quickly. The bad news is the people refusing to take the current vaccine will still be out there. “I’m not sure what is going to make them take the next vaccine,” Nelson said.

We can gain some solace from the fact that the number of Americans still resisting the vaccines is declining. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 180 million Americans are now fully vaccinated. That works out to more than 63% of the eligible population. Roughly three out of four eligible Americans, nearly 211 million people, have at least one dose.

If you know one of the holdouts, tell that person the truth. The way to end this pandemic is for as many people as possible to get a vaccine. Seriously, folks, if you have not yet gotten vaccinated, make plans to do it today. 

Kelly Hawes is a columnist for CNHI News Indiana. He can be reached at kelly.hawes@indianamediagroup.com. Find him on Twitter @Kelly_Hawes.