These statements and opinions are mine and are not meant as medical advice. PLEASE visit with a physician you trust and make the best decision you can for your family and situation.
I got the vaccine today.
I had told myself and anyone who'd listen that it was probably not going to happen. I do NOT like being called names, told what to do by the government/celebrities or otherwise condescended to by strangers on the internet, so I was pretty adamant that I wasn't going to put an experimental drug in my body.
But a lot of things happened.
Not the least of which was a lot of time researching fact vs. fiction for myself. As a journalist, I know that in the past it was said that the media "can't tell you what to think but they do tell you what to think about. "I don't believe that to be the case anymore. "They" will outright blast you if you're not on their side of the political aisle these days. It's a shame, because in a situation as serious as a worldwide pandemic, you'd hope to be able to efficiently gather reliable information to make an educated decision quickly. You know, to GET US THROUGH THE PANDEMIC and back to whatever normal will now be.
Instead, we've fought, name-called and "fact-checked" each other into oblivion, and people have died because of it. There is a huge danger in confirmation bias, which is defined as "the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories." I have friends who ONLY look for reasons NOT to get the vaccine. You can't research honestly from a slanted perspective.
But we've been told "mask up," then "masks aren't shown to work," then "masks work, we were just afraid you'd buy them all and there would be a shortage!" How are we supposed to believe a word any of these career politicians and wannabe celebrities say? How many people do you think have become so entrenched in their distrust of the media, government, and even the leading medical professionals of our generation that they can't be swayed? It's LITERALLY costing people their lives and the lives of their loved ones, as COVID-19 ravages the world.
So, I decided to make a mental ledger of sorts, to weigh the pros and cons of "vaccine" or "no vaccine." First, my fear of "what's in this thing, anyway?" I can't responsibly put this non-approved mess in my body! Yeah, but you've been stuffing your face with [redacted fast food chain name] cheeseburgers as long as you've been able to chew, smart guy. What's in those? Two local pediatricians (more on them later) told me last week that they've been following what they believe to be the "exciting" development of mRNA research toward this type of vaccine for many years. This thing didn't come out of nowhere, it has been adapted, albeit quickly, to attack this virus.
"Yeah, but I'm not going to let the government tell me what I HAVE to do!" Wellllll, you took a whole list of vaccines to go to school or travel internationally, didn't you? Remember that dead arm from the tetanus shot?!
Those same doctors I visited with explained- compassionately and rationally-how viruses work. Granted, I'm not a doctor, nor do I claim to be. But this is how I understood them, to the best of my recollection. A virus needs hosts, and the more people available to them, the further and faster they'll spread. The only way to stop that is to stop providing hosts. The more hosts, the more likely the virus can mutate and change, causing a whole host of new problems. Stop the spread, via vaccine, and you can isolate the virus and eventually eliminate it (or at least have a better chance at controlling it).
Like polio in generations past, this new Delta variant has shown to be extremely dangerous for kids. To be honest, part of my hesitancy against the vaccine was due to the fact that I would likely be just fine if I caught the bug, and it wasn't affecting kids at all anyway. So why bother?
But now? The whole dynamic has changed. I'm not ok putting my seven and three-year-old kids in the crosshairs when there's nothing they can do to protect themselves from what I may bring home.
I got sick a couple weeks back while in Oklahoma City, home of a serious COVID-19 spike at precisely the time we had on the calendar to visit my grandmother. Food poisoning. It didn't take too long for me to recognize the symptoms and self-diagnose, but I can't say that a wave of panic didn't cross my mind during a sleepless night that I had brought something into my grandma's house that could really hurt her.
I kicked my research into hyperdrive, I talked to some friends who had been feeling the same way, some of which have since decided to take the jab, and I sat squarely on the fence.
Then I interviewed Drs. Rick Harrison and Chad Masters from Millard-Henry Clinic in Russellville. You'll be able to view that VERY informative piece soon. These men encouraged me, and each of the video's viewers, to consult a physician they trust to discuss any concerns with the vaccine and for advice. I sat and listened and realized, these ARE two men I trust. Dr. Harrison is a River Valley institution. Everyone I know who has been seen by him, works/worked with him or has in any way crossed paths with him raves about his compassion and skill as a pediatrician. Dr. Masters, before he was doctor Masters, was MR. Masters, my junior high and high school science teacher at Clarksville. I had him for Physical Science and Biology. He dealt with me during the worst of my formative years, and I look back in awe at how well he handled such a problem child.
They were so patient and kind to answer 30-plus minutes of my questions about research I had read and opinions I had formed over the course of the past year. And they didn't once belittle or pressure me one bit.
And I came to a decision for myself.
It's not about caving to pressure, worrying about vax passports, being excluded from opportunities or any other propaganda being pushed.
I concluded that I can take this vaccine and potentially help keep myself, my wife and kids, my 85-year-old grandmother and all the rest of my family, friends, co-workers and community a little safer, and the risk is some literally one-in-a-million potential side effects.
After counting the cost, I decided. For me, it's worth it.