Can we talk about a touchy subject? And can you promise to read to the end and not delete this?? OK, here we go, deep breath…
Both of my kids have been vaccinated – they’re 16 and 14. My daughter and I stood in line at the Oregon Convention Center for over two hours when it first became available. She was nervous about the needle but not about the shot. She was excited for the shot – to her, it meant freedom, school, greater socialization and the possibility of a return to civilization. I was amazed and impressed at the fluidity of the vaccine site. We snapped photos of her arm and we were on our way.
My son? We had no problem getting an appointment for him at Safeway, a local grocery store. He wasn’t excited. He wasn’t scared. His attitude was, “I guess it’s my turn.” He just aimlessly roamed around looking at magazines until his shot thawed out. When we were done, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Let’s go, I’ve got to get ready for lacrosse.”
But me? I cried when Jack and I got to the car. As of that moment, every member in my immediate family was vaccinated. I didn’t realize what a relief it would be for me. I remember thinking, “We’re safe. Thank you science! Open up world!”
But I know that’s not the case for many of you. Where are you with the COVID-19 vaccine? Wherever you are, it’s ok. I’ll meet you there. It’s a lot of pressure to make our own medical decisions, let alone decisions for our children. And yet you do it, every day you do it.
Whew! This past week, I’ve talked with dozens of medical providers who are perplexed about vaccine hesitancy. Imagine you’re a physician, a scientist, and the greatest advancement of medicine of late can save thousands of lives, prevent illness, death and hospitalization. And imagine you’ve waited for over a year, armored in PPE, worry about your patients, your own family and putting your life on hold and then….voila! A vaccine! And while most people scramble to get appointments, many patients are worried, not ready and skeptical. It might feel frustrating. It might feel hopeless. It might feel like this pandemic will never end. It might feel like convincing your patients to get the vaccine is your only path towards normalcy again.
Here’s what I know for sure. People aren’t ready until they’re ready. Some of you are worried about how fast this vaccine came out. Some of you have heard about side effects, feeling sick after, or have skepticism about the vaccine’s effectiveness. Some of you want to wait and see more research and outcomes. Some of you have heard about medical complications. And some of you simply don’t see the utility because you’re healthy and it doesn’t feel necessary.
Whatever your reason for waiting on the vaccine or feeling hesitant, I get it. But would you mind doing an exercise for me? I want you to unplug from the news, social media and Aunt Gina and think about the following questions?
What are the advantages of getting the vaccine for me/my child?
What are the advantages of NOT getting the vaccine for me/my child?
What the disadvantages of getting the vaccine for me/my child?
What are the disadvantages of NOT getting the vaccine for me/my child?
On a scale of “no way in hell” and “yes, I just need to be pointed towards a vaccine clinic”, where are you?
Now, I want you to take your answers to these questions to a medical provider you trust. Not the news, not social media, not your neighbor and not Aunt Gina. Sit with him or her and pour out your questions and hesitations. It’s ok – they’re ready, compassionate and willing to answer your questions.
But just as we wouldn’t build a bridge without an engineer, put on a new roof without a contractor or change the oil in our car without some level of competence, we should approach information about this vaccine the same way. Let’s lean towards the experts.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours (or perhaps your child’s if they’re older). And I understand your fear and overwhelm. Let’s just be sure we’ve taken every measure to be comprehensive in collecting information.
Because I don’t know about you, but I CANNOT TEACH MY KIDS AGAIN THIS FALL. And I want wear lipstick again without looking like the Joker. And I like happy hour – the kind where I don’t have to do the dishes and someone else makes my drink. Are you with me?