Friday marked two weeks since my second Moderna shot, and I feel … vaccinated.
I had a strong reaction to the first dose — fatigue, chills and body aches for about 24 hours — and a milder reaction to the second dose. Then fine. That’s it.
But, this vaccine, in this society, represents more.
When people ask if I’ve been vaccinated, I pause, involuntarily.
I know the question is loaded. For some people, it lets them know whether they can feel safe. For most of them, it signals where I stand politically and socially. If I’m belong to their particular tribe, or more importantly, political party.
Which is so strange to me.
The first round of vaccines I can remember getting is right before I started kindergarten. I probably remember because I was so darn excited to start school (then I ended up having to be homeschooled for kindergarten, but that is a different tale for another time).
My shoulder was so sore, I only wore my dad’s shirt for days. I still remember the little “bubble” on my arm from the TB test.
It didn’t make me feel like a hero for doing my part. It didn’t make me feel like a lemming for following the crowd. At 4 years old, I just trusted the experts.
I have continued to receive my booster shots. When I lived in South America, I received several vaccinations — I don’t even remember them all.
When I visited Africa, it was recommended I take a series of pills to prevent malaria.
I didn’t do great research into the pills. I trusted the people who recommended them.
While living in Ecuador, I had contracted dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness. And it was miserable. So when I was presented with a way to possibly prevent malaria, I wanted to take it.
At the time, I believed dengue to be a form of malaria (in fact, I believed that until I looked it up just now), so I was more eager to prevent the disease.
It just goes to show, I don’t always have the greatest understanding of medical issues.
The medication caused some intense dreams, what seemed more like hallucinations. It was a trip for sure, but I determined the benefit to outweigh the risks.
Having said all of this, I respect everyone’s right to make the decision best for her or his body. There are all kinds of medical, religious and personal reasons that people may choose to receive or forego a vaccine.
That’s completely valid.
What is confusing and somewhat shocking to me, is that politics are coming into play with this vaccine.
It seems there should be a separation between health decisions and political affiliation.
Weigh the risks, evaluate the benefits, make the decision that’s best for you. Let others make the decision that’s best for them.
Take the emotional weight out of it.
A vaccine is just a vaccine.