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A friend posted a video recently of folks in Brazil lined up for the vaccine. When it was their turn, they would cry with happiness and gratitude, and even take selfies, their tears and emotions flowing.
My mind was closed to the COVID-19 vaccine since Day One. I was the first one to speak out against it in my circle.
I even wrote about being on the fence and all the reasons I would not be in line to get it. Mostly, because I was vegan and healthy and have never had a flu shot. I haven’t been sick in years. I am also sober and I take optimal care of my health. I have supplements lining every counter in my kitchen. I take pride in my health and was lucky to have not gotten Covid, even though I worked in close contact with students and staff in a school. I was exposed a couple of times, quarantined, but got negative tests. I must be invincible, right?
All of my closest friends and family are not vaxxed. I receive videos from countless people showing me the “daily doom” about the vaccine and why “it’s a ploy for the government,” and “how the vaccinators are all sheep.” “They want us to obey. They want us in masks. They want control and for us to bow down and do what they say.”
Did I believe all of that? I think I did, mostly.
And then a few situations happened. I had someone come up to me and say, “Those stupid anti-vaxxers, God! Just 40 percent more people that need the shot, why can’t they just get it already?”
I nodded in agreement, too shocked to respond. I have friends regularly posting on social media offhandedly about people who are not vaxxed, and I had to stop and think, hey, wait, I’m one of those people.
Instead of being shamed into submission, I really just needed to ask some questions about my fears and worries.
So, I reached out to a few friends who I felt safe asking. They were obviously pro-vaccine and they must have their reasons why. My friend Nora McInerny answered my question, “Why won’t people get vaccinated?”
Her response was, “People are skeptical of Big Pharma: an industry that created an opioid crisis and has inflated prices of insulin and other life-saving drugs, and has not proven to be here for our collective benefit, but for their own profit.
So acting like people are stupid for not being all-in on something they don’t understand, further entrenches them into their belief system.
We don’t need online outrage; we need face-to-face compassion and empathetic conversation.
Nobody is convinced by rage. Nobody.”
If those who are not vaxxed are being shoved information from every direction about conspiracy theories and other fake news, it’s going to take a kind and compassionate person to talk them off the ledge, so to speak.
Who will they reach out to for the real facts, if they think they’ll just be shamed and called stupid?
My own vaccination journey started when my favorite uncle died. My uncle taught me how to swim and drove me super fast in his convertible Mustang. He let me drive his boat as a kid and he made me laugh.
He died of Covid and he was not vaxxed. I know he would rather be here with his kids who are missing him dearly. What if the vax would have saved him?
So, his passing started to crack my mind open and ask the important questions we all should be asking. Even though none of my other family members are open to getting the shot, and most my friends think I’m crazy, I took the first step and made my appointment.
I have fear and anxiety, and I cried most of the night and that morning of. I messaged with friends who I trusted, as I typed my fears through my tears.
I had so many fears swirling around my head before my appointment. I was grieving for my whole life before I even got in the car to go. But, I didn’t want to get Covid or spread it to my family or coworkers, especially not the children: mine or yours. I didn’t want to suffer worse from Covid than I would from this shot. I also wanted others to feel safe around me. Mostly though, I didn’t want my uncle’s death to be in vain.
And, I wanted to quit f*cking thinking about it, honestly.
Do I wish this wasn’t even a thing? Yes, I do; we all do. I think I did try to wish it away, and when things started to open back up, I thought I was in the clear. But the new variants arrived and I knew that I needed to take the steps to keep us all safe, especially the kids and others who cannot get vaccinated.
I really only needed someone to talk out my fears with. I didn’t want to hear that I should trust the science. For many of us, it just turns us further away. It’s not your job to educate us, and all the factual information is readily accessible online now, we know. But sometimes we just need to talk to someone we trust.
So please, tell us you are here when we are ready to listen to some facts, but don’t push. Don’t belittle us. Don’t act holy because you didn’t struggle to choose to vaccinate. Guide us to the answer. Be kind, compassionate, and considerate that our fear is real. I am usually a rational person, but the fear of getting that shot made me irrational.
Everything in my body was telling me not to get it and I am a super sensitive, intuitive person who does what my body feels is right. I prayed for guidance and that’s what I have been doing all along.
This might sound crazy, but my life is getting really good.
I just fulfilled my lifelong goal of writing a book. I want to live to see this book through. I want to live to see my kids grow. I want to live. I’m scared to die. Sometimes this is what our brains do. Especially if we are at all hypervigilant and have past trauma. Every fear or worry turns into a fight, flight, or freeze response.
Once I started to allow the space to think about it, I knew that I had to be willing to have an open mind—and trust me, it was only open a tiny sliver. I got that vaccine begrudgingly out of fear of the alternative. But I want to help those who, like me, have questions but don’t want to feel shamed for asking.
After I got my vaccine (and survived just fine!), I then had to deal with eating my humble pie. Of course I’m still getting the daily deluge of anti-vax propaganda from my friends and relatives. I’ve been able to set some boundaries and let them know that I made my decision for myself.
I’m just done with being too cool and prideful to trust science and facts. I’m tired of worrying about Covid. And like I said, I bawled and had nightmares about getting the vaccine. My anxiety was out of control, but right after that tiny little poke, I could breathe. I felt like I was no longer between a rock and hard place. I took a preventive measure. I don’t need to feel weird anymore about not being vaxxed.
I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I spread it to someone at work or home. I know that can still happen, but at least I have done preventative measures to try to keep my family and friends, and my community safe.