My name is Maria Tabone and I have a confession to make: I am a wellness practitioner and I am fully vaccinated.
It would be an understatement to say the past year has been challenging. For me, it’s been the past three months. As someone who has been an active part of the wellness (aka integrative, holistic, and complementary) community for many years, to some, I have gone to the dark side. Sad to say that after revealing my truth, members of my community have now shunned me as a result of my decision to get vaccinated. They have no idea of the anticipation anxiety getting vaccinated has caused me.
This decision did not come lightly. I have spent hours, days, and months fact-checking sources from all the best doctors, scientists, and researchers around the globe, to going down rabbit holes of websites espousing theories about Bill Gates, Dr. Fauci, 5G, masks causing COVID-19, germ theory, Koch’s postulates, data gaps, bloated death statistics, Big Pharma’s history, who owns the vaccine patents—and that’s not even the entire list! My goal was to be completely unbiased because since day one, I had no plans of getting vaccinated.
My “coming out” is not to demonize anyone. It is to start a much-needed conversation of civility and respect for each other. We all make decisions based on what and who we believe. My concern is that we are in a post-truth world where anything can be proclaimed as the truth, and if you can find a website to prove your theory, it doesn’t matter if there is any truth to it. Anyone can create a website, post information on it, and sound like an authority. Just because someone articulates a belief or idea, that doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s fine to read something on social media, however, how you proceed once you read that information is crucial. Do you verify the source? Who owns the website and what do they gain from it?
Social media has provided a platform for everyone to curate their sources of “news” to the point where they customize their realities, consuming utterly different unsubstantiated narratives. While I don’t believe in censorship or cancel culture, I agree with Minnesota Attorney General, Keith Ellison, when he instead referred to it as, “consequence culture.” You can’t have your own set of facts, and if you are spreading misleading or outright false information, there needs to be consequences—especially if that narrative can be potentially dangerous or even deadly—as we have already seen on January 6th with the Capitol attack and with the backlash against the Asian community.
When asked by shocked colleagues, “Why did you do it, what changed?” my response was clear. After all my exhaustive research, I couldn’t find any proof why I should not get the vaccine. My only hesitation, which we cannot possibly know yet, is if these vaccines have any long-term side effects. Those whom I spoke with who are not getting the vaccine, expressed they do not trust it. When I asked why, the answers ranged from, “It alters DNA,” “Bill Gates is trying to implant a chip in us,” “I don’t believe COVID-19 is any more deadly than the flu,” “My immune system will protect me,” and “Germ theory doesn’t exist.”
This is why we need conversations with experts to come together to address both sides.
Fear pervades both sides of the discussion. Personally, I had a fear of getting the vaccine and a fear of not getting it. Ultimately, it was my research and conversations with experts on the subject that led to my decision.
By definition on Google, complementary medicine is, “Any of a range of medical therapies that fall beyond the scope of scientific medicine but may be used alongside it in the treatment of disease and ill health.” Western and Eastern medicine should complement one another. I believe that nature is a great healer, and that food is our medicine and medicine is our food. I meditate, chant, do yoga, follow Buddhism, love energy healing, and hope that the future of medicine is a model where Eastern wisdom traditions are incorporated into Western medicine as one system.
Is there a lot we don’t know? Yes. Is there a lot we do know? Yes. Am I concerned about 5G? Yes. Can anyone be sure their narrative is 100 percent correct? Yes and no. Do I trust Big Pharma 100 percent? No. Should we question? Yes. Do I think the vaccine is a cure-all? No, but it will help save lives.
We need to look at other countries developing therapeutics and turn our healthcare system into a wellness model rather than a disease system that waits until you are near death to teach patients how to improve their health. We must treat the person and not just the symptoms. Everyone knows that stress can kill, so why isn’t your general practitioner writing a prescription for some form of stress relief for every single patient at their yearly physical?
I’ve realized through all of this that I am not committed to a doctrine but to what is called in Buddhism “the middle way,” which alleviates leaning in to any extremism. I am a strong-minded person and not one who can be easily persuaded, which is why it was important for me to go down the path to solid evidence and research to make my decision on whether to get vaccinated or not.
If we don’t trust people who have spent their lives studying a subject then we are on our way to a dangerous place. However, regardless of what or who we believe, the only way to resolve anything is not through belligerence and narrow-minded thinking but with understanding and an open mind.