Thursday, June 3, 2021

One Shot, Two Shot

Yesterday my daughter and I drove to a nondescript building, in the middle of a busy street, and lined up under the pop-up tents. We were with a lot of other kids about her age, all waiting to get her the first of two Covid-19 vaccines. After more than a year of everything in our world slowing down, the pace at which things are changing seems jarringly fast. If you asked me back in the winter if I thought I would be fully vaccinated, walking around outside without a mask and hugging my friends, I would have laughed at how nice of an idea that would be. At that point, I wasn’t sure how science could possibly figure out how to make a safe enough vaccine, how they would make it available to everyone, and if I would even take it if they did. I am not an anti-vaccination person, but I have always been overly cautious when it comes to vaccines. I read obsessively about mercury and thimerosal. I knew that although there were no vaccinations that used certain preservatives that were questionable, some flu shots still did. I didn’t want to let my children go unvaccinated and be at risk for diseases that used to threaten millions of lives, and are in check now thanks to science. I also didn’t want to give them more than one or two at a time, or give them any when they were only a few months old. Together with my husband, we decided the schedule of their vaccines -- we delayed some vaccines, and spread them out. At the time we had no potentially risky threats to their health, and we felt confident with our timeline. When I heard the vaccines were going to be given to eligible people early on in the year, I was glad I wasn’t one of them. It felt like those first groups were guinea pigs and I was a chicken. I wasn’t trusting enough to inject some newly invented concoction into my body. I started reading more and more about the way scientists made the vaccine and how it worked. I was impressed but I wasn’t sold. With three different vaccines from three big pharmaceutical companies I was skeptical of the different methods, ingredients and agendas. We were told early on in the pandemic to be patient because vaccines take years to develop, so I was thrown at the speed at which so many companies were able to roll them out. While I followed vaccines I also followed the staggering numbers of people dying in my community, in the country and all around the world from Covid-19. The infection rate of people was horrifying. The virus was taking wild twists and turns with new variants showing up threatening even more lives. Although our children weren’t in the same risk bracket as adults, we watched as their mental health suffered. We locked in, shut out and distanced to protect our families. We all spent way too many hours in front of screens and did what we could to get through each day safely. When the next tier of people was offered the vaccine, my parents and sister got their vaccinations. As more and more people became eligible many of my friends went to great lengths to get their shots. My husband and I sat back nervously, neither of us sure we were ready to get vaccinated ourselves. One day when he was on a work call with someone in Germany, he learned of how far behind other countries were with vaccine roll outs. This man and his family had no end in sight to their lockdowns because there was no option to get vaccinated anywhere. That is when we both had a different perspective on taking a vaccine. I went back to reading about the vaccine itself and how it was made. The mRNA injects a way for our bodies to make a protein that triggers an immune response in our bodies. This vaccine has been in the works for quite a long time, decades before Covid-19 and once the Corona Virus appeared scientist went to work tirelessly to make it ready and safe for the current health crisis. Once I felt that I understood enough about the vaccine I realized what a privilege it was that we had access to them so quickly and easily. The more people that were protected from the virus, the sooner we could help diminish its threat. Together my husband and I signed up for our vaccines and even proudly left wearing stickers that we got jabbed. The news a came out a few weeks ago that kids ages twelve to fifteen would be eligible as well. Again I took pause because it was one thing for us to get a vaccine but I wasn’t sure I was ready to give it to my kids. I went down another hole of research and after seeing very little to be concerned about, I was on board to have my daughter vaccinated. My husband was hesitant too though and after asking advice from a few friends and sharing articles, I read we realized there was nothing to gain from waiting except more possible exposure to her getting the virus, so we agreed to schedule a shot. Getting my daughter on board took more convincing, but for a different reason. She is terrified of needles and has always been. We have had many trips to the pediatrician in the past where I have had to get her a blood test or a shot, and we have had to come back another day because her fears got the best of her. With this vaccine though I explained how lucky we are to even have the option to get one. We talked about how some of the things in our lives that we have missed so much like going to friends houses, taking trips or doing a sleepover can come back when we are protected. She understood all of it and because she wants so badly to have normalcy again, she agreed that she wanted the vaccine, but confessed how scared she was about getting it. Since letting the butterflies take over her ability from going through with getting the shot wasn’t an option this time, we walked her through some tools to help ease her nerves. She was a trooper about going, and we made a little afternoon out of it. Although I was painfully aware of her growing nerves as we waited in line for her turn, it was impossible not to be moved by seeing all these kids lined up to change their world. At the beginning of the pandemic I felt the weight of the responsibility to keep my children safe during such an unsafe time. They had so many questions that I didn’t have the answers to. I tried to reassure them when they were afraid, but I was full of fear myself. I wanted to be able to tell them they would be okay, and that we would be safe, but I couldn’t offer anything that would insure them of that. Thanks to science, that is not the case anymore. Although it is too soon for my son to get the vaccine, I know it is just a matter of time until all four of us will be vaccinated. I never thought I would be in such a rush to get injections, but I am so grateful for them. It’s the beginning of the end and all of us are ready to get to the finish line.

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