People have many reasons to not get vaccinated. Almost all of them are bad

Unless you have some kind of medical condition that makes the risk of vaccination greater than the risk of getting covid-19, you should get vaccinated. But there are people who decide, against the best scientific advice, that they know better alternatives. Not all of them are rabid anti-vaxxers or are opposing it because of some ideological fixation or because they believe in some bizarre conspiracy theory that it is a device for the government to gain control over one’s body. There are those who do not get it because they have folkloric beliefs, such as that healthy people have natural immunity or that the symptoms will not be serious or that certain practices such as wellness or Ayurveda or other folk remedies will stave off the infection.

That attitude can lead to tragic results, such as the case of the Czech folk singer Hana Horka. She was not vaccinated, believing that getting covid-19 was not so bad and that if she did, it would be actually beneficial because it would provide her with the immunity pass that would enable her to attend public functions in the Czech Republic. That country requires proof of vaccination or recent infection in order to gain entry to things like cinemas, bars and cafes, and she decided that the latter option was better and set about to deliberately infect herself. So when her husband and son (who had been vaccinated) got breakthrough infections, she took her chance and decided not to isolate herself from them, deliberately exposing herself so that she would get infected. And she did. And then she died.

Her son, Jan Rek, said she got infected on purpose when he and his father had the virus, so she could get a recovery pass to access certain venues.

Mr Rek and his father, who are both fully vaccinated, both caught Covid over Christmas. But he said his mother had decided not to stay away from them, preferring instead to expose herself to the virus.

“She should have isolated for a week because we tested positive. But she was with us the whole time,” he said.

Two days before she died, she wrote on social media that she was recovering: “Now there will be theatre, sauna, a concert”.

On Sunday morning, the day she died, Ms Horka said she was feeling better and dressed to go for a walk. But then her back started hurting, so she went to lie down in her bedroom.

“In about 10 minutes it was all over,” her son said. “She choked to death”.

There was no point in trying to discuss the issue with her as it would just get too emotional, he added. Instead, he hoped that by telling his story he could convince others to get vaccinated.

“If you have living examples from real life, it’s more powerful than just graphs and numbers. You can’t really sympathise with numbers.”

Rek is right that for many people, expert opinions and statistics don’t have much impact. It is when someone they are close to or at least know on a personal level dies or becomes very seriously ill that the message about the seriousness of the pandemic and the need to get vaccinated hits home. But having people die in order to convince others to save themselves is terrible method of persuasion and for a few even that will not be enough.


  1. Matt G says

    One of the many distressing things about covid is the number of people who have had covid hit close to home (parents, spouses, children) and who STILL embrace anti-science positions. This ideology has burrowed so deep in tens of millions of Americans, and all because of the culture wars.

  2. K says

    Yes, sadly, it’s not just Americans. My Dutch friends are full-on Qnuts, thanks to Facebook. They used to be perfectly ordinary, pleasant people before Facebook, now they’re raving, violent lunatics who believe vaccines are murder (and one is a nurse…) but Covid is “just a cold”.

  3. Ridana says

    I think some people who aren’t politically anti-vax think vaccines themselves create fake or inferior antibodies in you, whereas natural infection makes your body create real antibodies. So vaccines are only for diseases that have a very high, like 90%, chance of killing or crippling you if you get infected, leaving no real choice about avoiding vaccination.

  4. seachange says

    It is a common thing in chick-flicks and in romance novels that someone dies, and this is the paradigm change and plot point that knocks folks out of their cognitive ruts.

    Death, it does serve a cognitive purpose, and death rituals like memorials and funerals help with this. We-all are just seeing a lot more of this in society at large. Anyone who was volunteering for any charity that supported people with AIDS before the invention and FDA approval of protease inhibitors has already experienced this. Anyone with a large catholic family with a tendency for heart diseas has experienced this.

    It is part of the human condition. Very, very human.

  5. says

    There is a bit more to this story that was not picked up by Anglophone media.

    Jan Rek continued to say on social media that antivaxxers have blood on their hands and blamed their disinformation campaigns directly for his mother’s death.

  6. John Morales says

    Charly, dunno about other Anglophone media, but I saw the story here in Oz (yesterday), and it certainly was picked up.

    Mr Rek blamed the death on a local anti-vax movement, saying its leaders had convinced his mother against vaccination and thus had “blood on their hands”.

    “I know exactly who influenced her … It makes me sad that she believed strangers more than her proper family,” Mr Rek said.

    “It wasn’t just total disinformation but also views on natural immunity and antibodies acquired through infection,” he added.


    As I noted back when, any excuse to the effect that it’s somehow new or untested fails when one realises just how many billions of people have had the vaccination.

  7. Allison says

    Ridana @3:

    [S]ome people … think vaccines themselves create fake or inferior antibodies in you, whereas natural infection makes your body create real antibodies.

    In the case of COVID, the issue is that natural infection creates antibodies to a more or less random collection of antigens, some of which might look just like things your body naturally has. A good way to get an auto-immune disorder. That’s one theory I’ve heard to explain the long-haul syndromes from COVID.

    The vaccines use a known set of antigens, which presumably can be chosen not to resemble any (known) human proteins.

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