Letter: Present the whole picture of COVID-19 vaccines

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I just read your exposé “Side Effects” [“Side Effects: Local Handling of COVID Vaccine Troubles Breeds Medical Mistrust,” Jan. 12, Xpress]. It’s the single most irresponsible piece of journalism I have ever read. And it will undoubtedly kill some people who decide not to get vaccinated just because they read it.

Your research included local Facebook and Reddit postings and a citizens group, and a couple other national “adverse effects” websites? Wow, that’s thorough research! And all you got was 25 people? Did it ever dawn on you that these people might have gotten whatever terrible malady they report coincidentally, or more or less simultaneously?

Out of Western North Carolina’s share of the 15 million-plus shots given in North Carolina so far, there are going to be other medical events that would have happened anyway, even death. Statistics, the law of large numbers, is based on mathematical principles that you should study.

Good journalism demands presenting the whole picture and all knowledge about a subject. Yours is no better than a Fox News report and an embarrassment to the great town of Asheville and its citizens.

My story is similar to the people you interviewed, and I have many of the symptoms the people in your article report, and I could easily blame them all on the vaccine. I’ve had three vaccinations now and also have multiple joint and nerve problems that require surgeries and systemic pain to such a degree that I’m on six different pain meds. I could easily have been one of your examples, but my maladies preceded my first shot by several months. If my so far undiagnosed condition would have started after the vaccinations, should I blame the shots?

And perhaps some of these folks did, in fact, have an adverse reaction. Given millions of shots, some bad things will happen. Every medical procedure or prescription carries risk. But the risk of actually getting COVID is far worse, by multiple degrees. And I don’t claim to know more stuff than doctors or believe everything they say; I do my own research but also trust they are knowledgeable and compassionate professionals most of the time. And they’ve been risking their lives the past two years, dedicated to helping and educating people, despite misinformation online and in papers like yours.

One fact that your article did not say at all is the vaccines have saved millions of people from death and disability. In fact, the vaccine has kept me from getting COVID and getting even sicker than I am already or dying.

So at least print another article now about vaccines, using reliable and professional doctors as sources and regular people who have been saved by them and families of others who have lost loved ones due to misinformation. You have a responsibility to your readers and the community to report the facts and the whole story. Thank you!

— James Dougherty

Editor’s response: Thank you for sharing your views. The referenced article does feature several mentions of the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination, including Dr. Patrick Hanaway noting that vaccines reduce severe infection by sixfold, hospitalization by 12-fold and death by 20-fold.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

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6 thoughts on “Letter: Present the whole picture of COVID-19 vaccines

  1. Voirdire

    …..I just read your exposé “Side Effects” [“Side Effects: Local Handling of COVID Vaccine Troubles Breeds Medical Mistrust,” Jan. 12, Xpress]. It’s the single most irresponsible piece of journalism I have ever read. THANK YOU JAMES….. I couldn’t have put it better myself… makes you wonder who and how makes the editorial calls here. I have a feeling it starts at the top.

    • NFB

      Agreed. I’ve lost a huge amount of respect for MX because of that article.

    • Joe

      The writer of this opine can’t claim the vaccine kept him from getting Covid, just like the author of the article in question can’t claim the vaccine will cause harmful side affects. Many folks (including myself) have received the vax and boost and still got Covid. Fortunately, symptoms were no worse that a mild cold for me. Be honest in your opines if your going to try to make a rebuttal about an article. You didn’t “get covid” because either: 1-You are very fortunate, or 2-You got it, didn’t know you had it, and you didn’t know you had it because the vax worked well. It is a well-known fact that the vax does not keep us from getting covid. This has been a fallacy very much de-bunked in the past 6mo by all forms of media (left, right, middle, outer space, etc.). As you can see, I’m not arguing for or against the vax. I’m just standing up for MTNXPress to be allowed to print articles that express differing views without being brow beaten by insensitive and closed minded readers with a chip on their collective shoulders. Getting the vax should be a personal choice and not a forced directive, PERIOD. Respect those who get a vax, respect those who don’t, then MOVE ON. Respect those who feel a cloth mask will protect them from covid while hiking on a trail and near NOBODY. YES, I saw many examples of this over the past weekend. Good for them, but you’ll not see me doing such non-sense. The past two years have been an interesting view into the human psyche.

  2. Bright

    If Dougherty is fine with his “truth”, good for him. Thanks Xpress for what info you’ve managed to provide on the many side effects of the vaccine. As always, buyer beware and good luck.

  3. Brooke Heaton

    I stopped subscribing to the Mountain Xpress after that article was published. The journalistic quality of this paper has gone downhill very quickly after Virginia’s departure.

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