Here's how different views about the COVID vaccine can be in one small town

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

People across the country have mixed views about whether to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and that's the case in this area, too.

Valerie Meyers, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce, said she is hearing strong opinions both for and against vaccination.

"Community members will come in saying that they're anxious to have things back to normal and that the vaccine is the means to make that happen," she said. "I spoke to a vendor who's very interested in participating in an event, but who is firm about not doing so while there is any risk of infection.

Bonnie Shockey said she and her husband, Ken, shown here during Old Home Week in 2019, see the COVID-19 vaccine as "the first step toward getting back to a new sense of 'normal.'"

"Others, including some members, are adamant about not getting the vaccine, holding to individual rights and some suspicion about its efficacy," she said.

Ken and Bonnie Shockey and Ben and Kathy Haldeman, two couples who live in the Greencastle area, are examples of the different points of view.

The Shockeys were scheduled to receive their second dose of Moderna at Waynesboro Urgent Care this week.

"Vaccination is protection against this unpredictable virus and the first step toward getting back to a new sense of 'normal,'" Bonnie Shockey said.

"We are hesitant to get it for several reasons," Ben Haldeman said. "One is a trust issue."

"The vaccine was produced quickly and there are too many unknown consequences," he said. "We don’t want to be guinea pigs. I believe in the Law of Unintended Consequences. 

"Another reason is the availability. We are told that there is a shortage, so we gladly allow those who need or want the vaccine to get it. There are rumors that some people who got the first shot will be unable to get the second shot," he said.

"Those who get the shot are still expected to wear masks and social distance," he said. "The duration of the protection is short-lived. The vaccine seems almost useless."

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Haldeman cited other drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine and budesonide that "have been available for years, yet the system resists using them to treat the coronavirus. Doctors claim they work." Haldeman provided a link to an interview with Dr. Richard Bartlett, who called budesonide, an inhaled steroid, an inexpensive, highly available "silver bullet" against the virus.

"My wife Kathy and I are both over 70 years of age. That may give us priority to treatment, but our best years are behind us," Haldeman said. "Since we will get a new body in the resurrection, we feel that we don’t need the COVID-19 vaccine."

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Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent of the Greencastle-Antrim School District, hasn't asked teachers personally if they plan to get vaccinated or their reasons.

Several weeks ago when the district thought it would receive the vaccine, over 70% of its 180-plus teachers signed up, but the group vaccination did not happen.

"Right now, we still have more questions than answers as we 'await' our turn as members of 1B," Hanks said. "Some teachers may qualify in the 1A group and have set up appointments at the available sites. We have been unsuccessful in coordinating a group event until we know when the vaccines will be available for teachers. Once we have a time frame, we will be better positioned to plan."

Hanks plans to be vaccinated as soon as she can, saying, "I work in service to the public, therefore I want to be sure that I take any precautions available to protect those I serve."

Ben Thomas Jr., mayor of Greencastle and a long-time member of the Rescue Hose Co., said, "I have many friends in emergency services and the health care profession. Most have already received one, if not two of the vaccines. I know many others under the Pennsylvania 1A plan.  They have been trying to register for the vaccine and on waiting lists or unable to register as the vaccine is not available at this time.

"I am eligible to receive the vaccine under the Pennsylvania Phase 1C plan.  Pennsylvania remains in Phase 1A," Thomas said. "Hurry up and wait seems to be the norm in Pennsylvania."