Makary told U.S. News & World Report that as a physician, he believes "you win more bees with honey than with fire—referring to patients who don't follow what "we ask them to do."
Makary believes people "who choose not to get vaccinated are making a poor health decision at their own individual risk." But he doesn't believe the unvaccinated pose a public health threat to those who are already immune to the virus.
"Would we be so stern toward people making similar or worse health choices to smoke, drink alcohol or not wear a helmet when riding a bike? Over 85,000 Americans die annually from alcohol, yet we don't have the same public health fervor or requirements to save those lives. Let's encourage vaccination rather than activate the personal liberty culture wars that result in people becoming more entrenched in their opposition."Makary said that vaccinating everyone—including eventually every newborn—in order to control the pandemic is based on the false assumption that the risk of dying from COVID is equally distributed among the population—but it's not, he said.
"We have always known that it's very hard for the virus to hurt someone who is young and healthy," Makary said. "And that's still the case."
Makary suggested taking a similar approach to what is used with the flu shot, which is often mandated for healthcare workers. Makary said while vaccine requirements for healthcare workers make sense, we would never extend those requirements outside of healthcare.
No Scientific Support for Requiring the Vaccine for Those With Natural ImmunityMakary said there is no scientific support for requiring the vaccine in people who have natural immunity—that is, immunity from prior COVID infection. There is zero clinical outcome data to support arguing dogmatically that natural immune individuals "must get vaccinated."
"During every month of this pandemic, I've had debates with other public researchers about the effectiveness and durability of natural immunity. I've been told that natural immunity could fall off a cliff, rendering people susceptible to infection. But here we are now, over a year and a half into the clinical experience of observing patients who were infected, and natural immunity is effective and going strong. And that's because with natural immunity, the body develops antibodies to the entire surface of the virus, not just a spike protein constructed from a vaccine."A recent Israeli study affirmed the superiority of natural immunity. Health Ministry data on the wave of COVID outbreaks which began in May 2021, found a 6.72 times greater level of protection among those with natural immunity compared to those with vaccinated immunity.
The clinic studied 52,238 employees. Of those, 49,659 never had the virus and 2,579 had COVID and recovered. Of the 2,579 who previously were infected, 1,359 remained unvaccinated, compared with 22,777 who were vaccinated.
Not one of the 1,359 previously infected subjects who remained unvaccinated had a SARS-CoV-2 infection over the duration of the study.
No Strong Case for Vaccinating Kids, Makary SaysWhen it comes to vaccinating healthy kids, Makary says there is not a strong case for vaccinating young people up to age 25.
"When it comes to vaccinating healthy kids -- and you could argue young people up to 25 -- there is a case for vaccination but it's not strong. The COVID-19 death risk is clustered among kids with a comorbid condition, like obesity.
"The agency's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has vigorously recommended the two-dose vaccine regimen for all children ages 12 and up, regardless of whether kids already have immunity. I take issue with that," Makary said.
"Researching these events is important when issuing broad guidance about vaccinating healthy kids, including students, who already have an infinitesimally small risk of dying from COVID-19."Makary perplexed by vitriol directed at those reluctant to get vaccinated
"I never thought I'd say this, but please ignore the CDC guidance," he said.
"The goal of our pandemic response should be to reduce death, illness and disability, but instead what you're seeing is a movement that has morphed from being pro-vaccine to vaccine fanaticism at all costs."