As a nurse with over 20 years in the healthcare industry, I would have probably received some raised eyebrows after revealing my hesitancy to get the COVID-19 vaccine a few weeks ago. Although I haven’t worked in a hospital since 2003, I continued working in the community, focusing on helping people to stay healthy and out of the hospital.
Over the past year, COVID-19 has taken a regular place in the news globally.
As you know, the virus knows no age, color, race, role, religion, or any other distinguishing factors. Even during the COVID-19 vaccination period, we continue to hear of COVID-19-related deaths. And on top of that, we hear that many people globally are experiencing COVID-19 vaccine side effects. And for some, serious vaccine reactions. I’ve had moments in asking myself “which way do I go?”
It’s so easy to translate what we hear into a fear. I know because I had some fear growing inside me for the past year until I remembered my faith, what my mother taught me and my professional and personal experiences with medications, including vaccines. I have weathered some storms throughout my life, including childhood sexual abuse, raised by single parent, and others, and my faith has played a major role on my sanity and moving forward with life. My mother would tell us that you don’t have to experience the same things as others and to use news as information. Often, I would tell my clients that I am teaching you about health conditions and diseases to inform you and not to scare you.
Nevertheless, for months, I was still on the “wait and see list” even after several people in my family received the vaccine. Every day, I reviewed the MSN news highlights and occasionally the evening or nightly news. I stayed abreast of COVID-19 related deaths, COVID-19 vaccinations, COVID-19 vaccine side effects, and COVID-19 vaccine fatal reactions. As a former teacher of Pharmacology, I am well aware that all medications have side effects, and unfortunately, we do not know how people will react until after they take the medication.
Therefore, why did I finally choose to take a COVID-19 vaccine?
1. I let go of my fears and turned to my faith and childhood teachings once again. My mother told us to not put ourselves in the same categories of others, which helped to alleviate a lot of fears growing up. Although our bodies are similar in structure, not everybody reacts the same way. We all lead different lifestyles (have unique triggers for our immune systems, are allergic to different things, eat different foods, are exposed to different toxins, etc.). Plus, I didn’t used to be afraid of vaccines. I took the vaccines, and didn’t make a big deal out of them. I didn’t worry about side effects. If it is meant for be to be here on earth, I will be here.
2. I like to be in the best health possible. I experienced a wake-up call in November 2019. I didn’t get the flu shot in September, and this was our first full year in Oregon. The first day of a three week battle of an unrelenting cough and on-and-off-again fever was on November 14th. On Friday, December 5th, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. When we learned about COVID-19, I was afraid of getting it because I was unsure of how my heart, lungs, and entire body would respond; therefore, I took all the measures (masks, gloves, bleach and Lysol wipe down, and others) to reduce our chances of getting the virus. I was used to being alone and a home body, and other than grocery shopping, we hardly went anywhere.
During my recovery period, I felt helpless caring for our children. I wanted to continue making healthy meals, making sure they were saying their affirmations, and playing with them, but my energy level would lessen my involvement with my family. Most of the time, I was in bed. I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be. As with any health conditions, you are at increased risk of getting it again after an initial diagnosis.
3. I was grateful a family member had taken the vaccine, for his son, under 10, received a positive COVID 19-test. The family member contributes his minimal side effects and ability to care for himself and his family to taking the vaccine. He took the COVID-19 vaccine one month before his son tested positive. This family member said something that continued to play on my mind. “I didn’t want to be the first to get the vaccine, nor the last one one to get it.”
4. I trust myself to make the right decision. I heard stories of Christians not wearing protection and later dying. Continually, I prayed that if there is anything we needed to know about the vaccines to please let the information come to light. We have learned a lot about the vaccines, including their effectiveness in reducing COVID-19 hospitalizations. I have used this same prayer in relationships, jobs, and even the 2008 and 2020 presidential elections. I know this prayer has helped me to live the life I desired and have kept me out of trouble.
My reluctance to take medications stems from my belief that God made a wonderful body. However, I do believe, like my mom taught us, “God gives us common sense.” While riding in the car one day in late 2019 and before my diagnosis of pneumonia, my daughter said “mom God makes medicine.” I allowed those words to sink in, for they made sense to me. I believe that God teaches through anyone, even a 5- year-old. Medicine and technology have played a significant role in reducing deaths related to the common cold, flu, and other conditions.
I wanted the Pfizer vaccine as most people I knew took this one and had minimal side effects; but, the only vaccine available to me within a 50-mile radius was the Moderna one. I kept thinking I didn’t want to drive far to take the second vaccine.
My search for where to get the vaccines was relatively easy. I used this site to find vaccination sites closer to me https://www.vaccines.gov/. I like the site because you can search for all three vaccines, and I found a place within 4 miles of where I live. Like many of my life choices, a series of events took place, and when we are on the right path, sometimes it seems so smooth.
On the day of my vaccine, I prayed that if it is not meant for me to get the vaccine, don’t let it happen. Everything went smooth the day of my vaccine. I walked into the clinic and believed that receiving something to boost my immune system may help more than harm me. The fear I had withered away. I felt strong and committed to being in the best health possible.
On Thursday, April 27th, I received the Moderna vaccine in my left arm. I barely felt the shot and gave the nurse credit for doing such a good job. I was glad that I took my children because I helped relieve some of their fears about vaccines, especially the COVID-19 vaccine. Of course, they were watching. I think Cayla didn’t blink. The only side effect I had was some muscle tightness, but I only noticed it when I raised my arms to reach for something or doing Yoga stretches.
Am I a little nervous about the 2nd one? Yeah a little.. but, I must finish what I started. I must believe that I am on the right path, until I hear otherwise. I trust that I will know what I need to know when I need to know it.
All that being said. We all must choose how we will achieve the best health possible for this lifetime. It’s unfortunate that we are dealing with a dangerous virus and many people have lost loved ones. Although I wrestled with the COVID-19 vaccine, I used previous teachings, faith, and my personal and professional experiences to guide my choice.
May is National Women’s Health Month, and I know that I need to be in the best health possible to care for others.
Please feel free to share your concerns, fears, and how your vaccination went or even if you have chosen not to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Make this lifetime great with the best health possible.
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To Your Best Health!