Christen Vaccination Shot

Eastern Progress social media editor Christen Gibson receives her vaccination from Angela Kik, a nurse associated with the Kentucky Department of Public Health.

I believe in the effectiveness of vaccines but stayed on the fence when it came to receiving my COVID-19 vaccine until recently. I had heard arguments that sounded good both for and against getting the vaccine. This led to making an informed and educated decision hard for me. I wanted to feel peace about my decision to get my COVID-19 vaccine and not decide just because someone told me it was the right thing to do. I spent months researching the vaccine, which was no easy task. The internet is full of misinformation, but that can stop with you and me. No matter if you are a conservative Republican or a left-leaning Democrat, you need to stop being lazy and letting biased misinformation influence your medical choices.

The current pandemic is a health crisis, not a political movement. We should each take a step back from all the political debates and assess COVID-19, its effects, and what can be done to reduce its spread from the scientific evidence that is available to us from credible organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Our judgement can be easily clouded in a world flooded with misinformation and arguments that are clearly not rooted in scientific evidence, but being passionate about where you stand concerning the COVID-19 vaccination does not make you correct.

Take a moment and throw out everything you’ve heard about the vaccine. Now, do some research. This may take time, but that’s okay. Until you can accurately explain it to someone else, don't decide where you stand. Make a pros and cons folder on your computer and start digging. Don’t use any information in which you cannot find who stated the fact and what makes them credible to say it. Find multiple credible sources that are backing up what you find. There’s a reason why peer-reviewed journals are some of the most credible sources.

Even after researching online you may still have questions. It is okay to not know where you stand. This information should come from scientific evidence. Look to your local doctors, and ask where their information comes from. See the evidence for yourself. For me, it was professionals in the medical field who addressed my final concerns and pointed me to studies online which held the information I hadn’t been able to find on my own. Your local ER doctors can give you an accurate assessment of how COVID is actively affecting your community. Do not rely solely on what people are saying, and search for the source of that information. Look for numerical statistics often available through your local health department for an adequate understanding of how COVID is affecting your local community.

Look at what studies show and weigh your options. Vaccines may have some risks, but the numbers in those statistics are almost always extremely small when compared to the entire number of people in the study.  If you don’t know what the vaccine does once injected into your body, then research to find out.

Stay neutral until you have gathered all your information. If you’re struggling to find answers, remember to look to medical professionals and ask where their sources come from. Many are getting the vaccine because they believe it is the right thing to do. Understand why it is the right thing to do for you because, in the end, this choice is yours.

Getting my vaccine, personally, was the right choice, but it took time for me to arrive at the decision. Respect others' decisions, and educate them on the importance of making informed choices about their health. Don’t shame people or get shamed into getting the vaccine. It is never the right thing to do. Instead, have conversations based on evidence you have gathered. Sometimes you will have to agree to disagree, but treat each other with respect. This is something I think we have forgotten about when discussing topics that become so personal such as whether to get your COVID-19 vaccine.

It concerns me when I hear the possibility of the vaccine being mandated by the government and employers mandating the vaccine under penalty of being laid off. It is alarming because many individuals will not have peace about the decision to get the vaccine but will do so only to avoid the repercussions that the government, schools, or employers will shill out if they decide not to receive a vaccine.

You should not be mandated to make a health choice such as receiving the COVID-19 vaccine under the argument that it is for the greater good. Knowledge is power. Seek it and stop letting others make decisions about your health. To get your vaccine or not is an individual choice. Make sure your choice is an educated one and not one made for you. Empower yourself and make an educated decision. It’s up to you to find the truth. It’s up to you to make the right choice.

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