My regular readers know many things about me. They know I’m a moderate conservative, that I love the Constitution, and that I support women both at home and in the workforce. One thing they might not know is my stance on vaccinations, which I’d like to share at this sensitive and critical time. What better place to share than in an opinion column?
I am pro-vaccine.
I’m doubly protected against COVID-19. I’ve had the disease and the vaccination.
Some may wonder why I bothered to get the vaccine when I had already had the disease and fully recovered.
Generally, I believe vaccination is good. Modern medical advances like vaccines have eradicated or reduced illnesses like polio, which crippled my grandmother before vaccine availability. Deadly smallpox has been eradicated. Diseases like measles, mumps and rubella have been largely controlled.
Previously, I had chosen to be vaccinated prior to international travel, which saved me from malaria, though it didn’t save me from traveller’s diarrhea (maybe that’s more than my readers wanted to know).
That brings me to the COVID-19 vaccines.
Admittedly, they have been hurried in order to combat the global pandemic, which is cause for pause. Occasionally, hastily approved vaccines backfired, as one did in the infamous “Cutter incident” dealing with polio in 1955. Google it.
But largely, tested vaccines are safe for the great majority of people. My father-in-law is a respected pediatrician. We had a frank conversation about vaccinations when the first of my children was born. He confirmed that vaccines are not without risk, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. Every doctor I have spoken to, from my kids’ pediatrician to the former head of the health department, personally and professionally encourages use of the COVID-19 vaccine. I trust each of these doctors implicitly.
Stepping back, I’d like to share my personal experience with the disease itself. My case was not severe. I attribute that partially to genetic luck but also to my endurance training, which has bolstered my respiratory health.
Still, COVID-19 is the worst disease I have personally gone through in many years. It gave me a high fever for three days, which was my primary symptom. I also felt fatigued and had poor appetite. Those symptoms lingered several weeks after my official recovery date.
For me, the worst part of having COVID-19 was that I passed it to my 67-year-old mother and my pregnant sister before I knew I was sick. It terrified me to learn I had infected them, since they are both at higher risk.
I never want to make someone else sick if I can do something to stop it.
Becoming vaccinated is the best way I can avoid getting COVID-19 or a variant in the future. Subsequently, it is the best way I can prevent myself not just form being sick, but also from infecting other people.
With that in mind, I leapt at my chance when it came. When a local vaccination clinic had extra doses at the end of the day, I rushed over and got in line. I got my shot at 7:48 p.m. on a Tuesday. The clinic ended at 8 p.m. and a few doses still had to be discarded after the doors closed.
The first dose made me a little tired; I skipped going to the gym for a couple of days to get extra rest. The second dose made me groggy and I felt headachy for about a week. Other than that, I was fine.
For me, the side-effects of the vaccine were much milder than the disease itself. I would far rather have the vaccine than have the sickness again.
Some might argue that getting the disease was enough and I should not have bothered with the vaccine. But I wanted do everything in my power to make sure I didn’t contract COVID-19 a second time, both for my sake and for others.
For me, the assurance that I’ve done all I can was worth both the trouble of getting the vaccine and the risks at receiving it.
That said, I recognize that some people disagree. Some find fault with the disproportional way the vaccine is being distributed. Some resent having to present a vaccination card like a passport. Some people have concerns about the efficacy or safety of vaccinations in general. Some specifically worry about the rushed COVID-19 vaccination approval.
I respect those opinions. As with previous vaccines, I believe they should always be administered by choice. I believe that those who have real concerns should not be forced into compliance. I believe exceptions can and should be made for those whose health could be adversely effected by a vaccination.
At the same time, I hope that those who have no fears about vaccines will opt to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. As with other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine is most effective when the majority of people elect to use it. Those who feel safe and comfortable with the vaccine may help protect the health of those who are unable to receive it. I believe getting vaccinated to build herd immunity is the fastest, best way for us to ditch masks and return to normal life.
Personally, I’m doubly comfortable. I am as safe as I can be from COVID-19. By being vaccinated, I believe I’m doing my part to keep others safe, too.
Kate E Anderson is a mother of five living in North Logan. She can be reached at email@example.com