This is about why I decided to get vaccinated, and why that was a hard choice.
Note: If you have the opportunity to get vaccinated, you should. This is good for public health. If you’re worried about being a bad person by getting vaccinated now, you’re probably not a bad person. This is my professional opinion as a bioethics graduate student. Anyway, onward.
Not Great Reasons to Not Get Vaccinated
Reason one: Other people need them more.
There are people have a much higher risk of dying from COVID or having long term consequences. I don’t want to get a vaccine at the expense of someone who has much worse projected outcomes.
Reason two: I live a lowish risk life.
I have a low/medium risk lifestyle. I go to the grocery store, but I don’t do things like indoor dining. I have drinks with friends, outside, generally maintaining distance and trying to be polite and careful. I go on walks or sit in parks with friends. I have three people I see inside, and we don’t see anyone else inside. Through my school, I am tested regularly — though I am behind right now, I’ll admit. I work from home, I take classes on my computer. My podmates also work from home.
There are other people who live much higher risk lives and don’t have a choice in the matter. They work outside of their homes, they are taking care of other people, they’re incarcerated, their children go to school in-person. Those people need vaccines more than I do — or at least I feel like that’s the case. Even though I know that, e.g., parents won’t be able to get vaccinated unless they otherwise qualify, I still feel like I’d be doing them wrong by getting vaccinated first!
Reason three: I don’t want to deal with other people’s judgement.
When New Jersey allowed smokers to get vaccinated, wow, did people go off on how unfair that is. I’ve seen the same rhetoric applied to other preexisting conditions/qualifications. Boo.
Great Reasons to Get Vaccinated
I had a few good conversations with friends I respect a lot. They convinced me that I should get vaccinated, in spite of my concerns.
Reason one: I ‘m scared of COVID.
I actually find this the weakest of my reasons to get vaccinated: I’m scared of COVID. I get migraines. I downplay how bad they are, because I know other people who have it worse, but they’re terrible. They’re debilitating. COVID can increase your risk of migraines, especially if you’re already prone to them. They can last months. Boo. I’m terrified of Long COVID. A part of my identity comes from doing things outside, and this past year without regularly swimming or going on bike trips or going up mountains has been really rough for me. For my own sake, I don’t want to get sick.
Reason two: I want to protect the people in my life.
Being vaccinated is good for the people in my life. The current conversation I’ve heard is that if you’re vaccinated, you’re probably less likely to spread COVID to those around you. That sounds great! I’m not going to change my lifestyle anytime soon to be higher risk, but I like knowing that there’s an even smaller chance I will become a disease vector.
Reason three: Seriously, everyone should get vaccinated.
Vaccinations are key to fighting COVID. I am not an epidemiologist (though I did once consider become an epistemologist). I’m not going to pretend to be one. But they tell me that vaccines are really important, and the Intro to Public Health class I took agrees. We need to vaccinate everyone we can, everywhere in the world, in order to create the best outcomes. We don’t want some vaccine-resistant COVID variant to show up somewhere because we were jerkfaces and prevented people from getting vaccinated. Medical professionals and experts I talked with told me to get vaccinated as soon as the opportunity arose. Maybe they said this because they like me, but I think they’re also concerned about public health.
So you’re ready to get your vaccine!
I’m so excited for you! Sumana Harihareswara wrote this great blog post about getting vaccinated in New York City, though is probably relevant for New York State in general. Please check out your state’s guidelines and maybe do a little research or creative thinking about what counts. This Twitter thread Sumana shared talked about ADHD as a qualifying condition under “developmental and learning disorders.”
Your doctor might be super helpful! Your doctor might also not be helpful at all. When I talked to mine they didn’t know much about the vaccine roll out plan, criteria, or procedures around proof of medical condition.
Some vaccine sites also have waitlists for extra doses. A friend of mine is on one! For these, you generally don’t have to meet the qualification criteria. These are doses left at the end of the day due to canceled appointments and things like that.
A lot of states have useful Twitter bots and web sites. We have TurboVax. It’s great. Big fan. These are usually appoints for the day of or the next day or two.