I Don’t Want to Get the Coronavirus Vaccine
I’ll be honest for a minute: I don’t want to get the coronavirus vaccine.
I am not an anti-vaxxer of any sort. I’ve never been one to believe that vaccines cause adverse side effects (especially not things like autism) or that they are damaging to health and society. No. I am up to date on every single one of my vaccines, and happily so, because I take pride in doing my civil duty and protecting my communities.
This vaccine, though, makes me a little more apprehensive. The coronavirus just surfaced about a year ago, which means this vaccine hasn’t been a long time in the making — it’s only been multiple months. I’d be lying to you if I said that didn’t make me a little nervous, or that it didn’t make me think twice. Because it has. I’ve never in my lifetime seen a vaccine be developed this fast. (Well, I guess I haven’t lived that long, but even so, I haven’t read about it in history, either.)
For once, putting our general beliefs about vaccines aside, I want to be here today and say honestly that I, too, am nervous. I, too, struggle with the idea of receiving this vaccine. I think most of us can agree that we’re not going to be exactly excited to go into the clinic and get this when it’s finally approved and widely distributed.
Because many of us are asking ourselves: when has a vaccine ever been approved this fast? Could it make us sick? Are there side effects that we don’t know about that we’ll find in years to come? Is this just one big scam and the research subjects are all lying to us to promote the vaccine? (OK, the last one was sarcasm, but you get what I mean.)
But here’s what we need to remember: we’re not professionals. Our doubts are a result of a lack of understanding.
It’s normal to be nervous about something so new and expedited. It’s normal to have concerns and questions. But we can’t let our concerns and questions keep us from doing our civil duty: receiving this vaccine.
The bottom line is, we are not professionals. We don’t have years of experience in this subject. We are not skilled or trained in the medical field (well, most of us aren’t). Our feelings are valid, absolutely, but they are also supported by very little scientific evidence, and we need to think critically about how our personal doubts are affecting society.
For one, we have some of the best doctors and scientists in the country at the forefront of this research, urging people to get the vaccine when it is available, promising us that it has gone through proper trials and been proven safe. We have widespread research, published articles, real people who are serving as evidence that this thing works and that it’s not bad for us. Even the concept of how this vaccine was made — using RNA technology — is comforting. Did you know we’re not even getting injected with the virus, per se? We’re getting injected with RNA from the virus, which helps us produce antigens and then triggers an immune response and helps us produce antibodies. Nobody’s inserting any lethal foreign substances into our blood. They’re literally taking parts of this virus — or at least, what causes it — and programming our bodies to kick it out and become immune rather than become infected.
We have tens of thousands of people who have successfully taken this vaccine — both the one by Pfizer and the one by Moderna — and reported little to no side effects. Out of the minimal side effects that were reported, they are small things that are easy to heal from, like slight headaches or pain at the injection site. But guess what? We’re likely to get those anyway, from any type of vaccine. Have you ever been handed one of those flyers after a flu shot where they tell you not to be alarmed if you get a fever or headache within 48 hours after getting it? Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s just your body responding.
And yes, let’s be real for a second: long-term side effects can be daunting and scary. And although I’m not a medical professional, I have listened to the medical professionals that are out there and their common narrative is this: RNA is one of the least risky forms of vaccination. Our bodies take it well. Because RNA vaccines are fast-acting (and in some cases, the immunity is temporary) we would have already noticed if there were very serious, dangerous side effects.
And one more thing: one of the biggest worries people have about this vaccine is that it was too fast. It was produced too fast, tested too fast, and went through trials too fast. It can’t be safe because all of this happened within months.
But here’s the truth: these two vaccines went through all of the same trials as other vaccines have, with the same amount of subjects, the same length, and the same experimental conditions. Studies were blind, subjects were randomly chosen, and everyone was evaluated fairly. It’s not the vaccine and research itself that has increased in speed — it’s just the approval by the FDA. The reason why most other vaccines take so incredibly long is because FDA approval often takes a good chunk of time to happen. With this one, though, it’s the approval that’s going to be expedited. Everyone, including the FDA, knows that this is a global health crisis. It’s a pandemic, for goodness sake. It’s in all of our best interest to approve this as soon as it’s deemed safe, effective and efficient.
So I get it. For once, I can sympathize with people who are against vaccines. I get it. This has happened in very little time and it can be scary because it seems like we know so little about it. But I urge you: do your own research. Listen to the medical professionals. Look at the studies, the effectiveness. Read up (or watch videos, TedTalks, anything!) on the use of RNA in vaccines. Education is power. What we don’t know really can kill us. Right now, it’s not the vaccine that is killing us — it’s fear. And the more we educate ourselves, the more we will understand, and the less of the world we will have to fear.
I don’t think anyone is particularly eager to get this vaccine. I mean, needles aren’t fun, some of us barely understand the science behind it, and it’s just another thing to add to our list. But if there’s anything I can say with confidence, it’s this: we all want this pandemic to end. None of us are happy where we are right now. We want to get back to our normal lives. We miss our friends, our family, our work, our schools, our routine. Some of us are even missing people that we are painfully grieving who we have lost over the course of — or as a result of — this virus, and it’s giving us the incentive to protect others. At this point, the best that we can do for ourselves, our family, our friends, our communities, and really the common good is to get this vaccine. To trust the process, trust the science, and for once, set aside our own personal doubts.
This is all we have. People are clinging to the last shreds of hope that we have left.
But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and the path to the tunnel is right out in front of us.
Please. Take it.