Why Does It Matter if I Don’t Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Some people wonder why it matters to others if they choose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Paul Offit explains why the decision affects more than just the person making it.


Why does it matter if I don’t get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Paul A. Offit, MD: Hi, my name is Paul Offit. I'm talking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It's Tuesday, May 4th, 2021. Sometimes people have asked me the question, what is the worst thing that an anti-vaccine activist can say to you? And to me that thing is when they say, “What do you care what I do? You’re vaccinated.”

That makes three incorrect assumptions. The first is that no vaccine is 100% effective. So even if I am vaccinated, that doesn’t mean I am 100% protected. Two, is that there are a lot of people in the United States and the world who can’t be vaccinated. They can’t be vaccinated because they’re getting chemotherapy for their cancers. They can’t be vaccinated because they’re getting biologicals for their chronic diseases. They can’t be vaccinated because they’re too young. Whatever the reason, not everyone can be vaccinated, and hundreds of thousands of people in this country can’t be vaccinated.

The third thing, and it’s more subtle but important, is that the degree to which this virus [SARS-CoV-2] continues to spread, the degree to which this virus continues to reproduce itself in people, is the degree to which it will continue to make variants. So, until we stop the spread or dramatically reduce the spread of this virus, these variants will continue to be created. And when people say they don’t want to get vaccinated, what they’re saying is, they’re putting themselves at risk of continuing to get this infection and spread this infection, which only continues the possibility of making variants which may become completely resistant to the immunity that’s induced by vaccination.

So, that’s why it is that it’s important for everyone to be vaccinated, because that way you are acting like a responsible member of society and doing everything you can to stop the spread of this virus.

Thank you.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center

Last Reviewed on Jun 01, 2021