Why I’m getting the vaccine. It’s not about me.

I got a call this week from my family physician. She said there was an opportunity for me to receive the COVID vaccine in the upcoming week. Did I want to take it?

I jumped at the chance.

I was excited at being fortunate enough to be able to get the vaccine. Everything I read in the media said that at my age, 62, I wouldn’t be getting the vaccine until later this summer. It so happens there’s a pilot program taking place in Hamilton for healthy candidates ages 60 to 64. I didn’t ask why. I just said yes.

I’m aware not everyone is as excited about getting the vaccine as I am. There’s a lot of hesitancy out there. I know there are valid medical reasons for not getting the vaccine, including an allergy to vaccines. But overall, most of us are in a safe position to be able to get the vaccine.

I respect each person’s right to decide.

However, I’m alarmed at how many times I come across people whose reason for not getting the vaccine is not based on facts, scientific facts. I encourage everyone to do their own research. Find legitimate sources. Don’t go by what your uncle Harry, the plumber, says or what some conspiracy theory espouses, or what I say.

Take the time to do the research.

Make a decision based on scientific data. It’s out there and easily accessible. Find it. Do a simple Google search. Choose to read what you want. I considered making a few suggestions, but thought it might be better to let you choose. I’m not a doctor or scientist, but I want to address a few myths that contribute to vaccine hesitancy, from some of what I’ve discovered in my own research.

Myth: It was developed way too fast. How can it be safe?

Fact: It was developed fast because unprecedented resources, money and people, allowed for scientific trials to be expeditated with rigorous testing and data reporting.

Myth: A large number of people are getting severely ill from the vaccine and it’s being hidden from the public.

Fact: Thousands of people participated in clinical trials and millions have received the vaccine with ongoing reporting and trials. As with other vaccines there’s chance of getting some common temporary reactions such as headaches, arm pain, body aches, chills or fever. Taking over-the-counter-medication can help. The chances of getting severe reactions are rare.

I’ve chosen to receive the vaccine understanding the limited risk, not because I want to protect myself. I’m a healthy sixty-two and would highly likely survive getting the virus. But because I want to be part of a larger local and global solution to create herd immunity. Herd immunity only happens two ways, via vaccines or via virus spread. The problem with waiting for herd immunity to happen via virus spread is that many more deaths will occur than if we can reach that 65 to 80% vaccination rate needed.

Reaching herd immunity through vaccination is the safer route, the one that will save the most lives.

One might argue that if we only need 65 to 80% of the people to be vaccinated, I don’t need to be vaccinated. I’ll be one of the 20 to 35% that doesn’t get the vaccine. I’m urging you not to make that choice. The early data shows that reaching 65% is going to be extremely challenging. We need every person. It’s much like an election—don’t think your vote doesn’t matter. Don’t leave it to someone else. Unless you have a valid medical reason, I urge you to strongly consider joining me in being part of the movement to bring herd immunity as fast as possible, and save as many lives as possible.

Though I support everyone’s right to not be vaccinated, I hope many who are hesitant will do the research and decide to be vaccinated.

Stay safe.

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