Weighing the Risks and Benefits of COVID-19 Vaccines
I never liked group projects in school. Whenever one was announced, I’d groan and silently hope for the best. But the scenario always played out the same: slackers dumping the work on everyone else.
I wanted to believe the pandemic would change behaviors. With the stakes so high, maybe everyone would do their part. But 10 months in, this is our ugly reality: 49 states across America have unchecked community spread of COVID-19.
So, I’m no longer taking a wait-and-see approach with vaccines like I originally had planned. I’ll be getting vaccinated as soon as I’m given the opportunity. Because, much like those teams in the past, I feel a responsibility to do all I can so that everyone can succeed.
The speed at which vaccines were developed has filled me with gratitude, respect, and pride for those involved. But inklings of concern still tug at me.
After all, I have sarcoidosis, a disease that causes the immune system to go haywire for undetermined reasons. And the long-term side effects of these shots, if there are any, are still unknown. So is their safety and efficacy for immunocompromised and immunosuppressed populations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last month.
So, I can relate to those unwilling to roll up their sleeves. But trust is building, with nearly 60% of Americans now on board with getting vaccinated against COVID-19, according to USA Today. I’m now one of them, because I believe the benefits outweigh the risks.
I’m currently not on prednisone, which suppresses the immune system. With the unpredictability of my health, another course could become necessary in the future, which would cancel the advantage I currently have and add to my worries.
Guarding against infection likely will become even dicier in the future. A variant strain of COVID-19 that seems to be more contagious has already made it to our shores. Getting individuals to forgo risky behaviors has been a problem throughout this crisis. I expect compliance to plummet drastically once people are emboldened with shots to protect themselves.
Acting sooner rather than later will also open up more job opportunities for me. Most importantly, I believe it will help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus and save lives.
I won’t be going into the process blindly. I plan to talk to my medical team and get my annual bloodwork done first. I’ll also continue monitoring for emerging issues and reaching out to those with firsthand experience.
What I’ve been hearing so far is encouraging. My sister, Antonia, didn’t have any side effects after receiving the vaccine, and she didn’t even feel any pain when it was administered. Others reported feeling under the weather for a day or two.
Yale Health has posted a helpful guide to who should and should not get the COVID-19 vaccine. Also, a fact sheet for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine can be read here, and a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet is available here.
Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.
- That’s what she said: A pop-up bar and restaurant inspired by the television show “The Office” arrives in Houston on Jan. 15. It will feature themed drinks, trivia, office karaoke, and of course, Dundie Awards. For info and tickets, go to dundermupplen.com.
- Logging into nature: If winter weather is keeping you from nature, check out these two soothing replacements: WILDwatch Live provides twice-daily live streams of three-hour safaris in South Africa. And you can ask the guides questions on YouTube and Twitter. Unify Cosmos offers soothing sound clips from 50 locations around the world. All it takes is the twist of a virtual dial to choose your escape. The ability to listen to waves in the Dominican Republic, raindrops falling in Scotland, or the sounds of bustling Venice from a gondola ride is just a click away.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.