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Help make 2021 a better year: Get the COVID-19 Vaccination when you're eligible

Help make 2021 a better year: Get the COVID-19 vaccine when you’re eligible 


New year’s prediction: Optimism and hope will characterize 2021, in large part because of the COVID-19 vaccine. While we cannot leave the pandemic in the old year, our community will recover and move forward as more people are vaccinated. My job as a pediatrician allowed me to get vaccinated in December. Sharing my first-hand experience can help clear up disinformation and doubts about what it’s like to be immunized. 


Getting the flu and shingles vaccines were comparatively more painful than the COVID-19 vaccine. My side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine were mild. While that will vary from person to person, the vast majority of those immunized have reported minimal discomfort similar to what I experienced: arm soreness and fatigue. Although I have a sulfa allergy, I did not have any reactions or other notable symptoms.


All side effects can be reported directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with no need to give information to a doctor or pharmacist. Streamlining that process allows for better, more accurate reporting that goes directly to the researchers tasked with monitoring safety and effectiveness, the standard protocol for all vaccines even years after their release.


Each dose is just 0.3 milliliters; the standard vaccines for other diseases I routinely recommend are usually 0.5 milliliters, so it’s slightly less liquid to inject. Footage of vaccine shipments that require cold storage have led news headlines this month, which highlights the fact that the vaccine is preservative-free. The vaccine is defrosted and then must be used within a specified period of time. 


As a healthcare provider who has worked throughout the pandemic, I have witnessed the virus’ devastating effects on patients of all ages. Many of the medical professionals who have continued to show up for our patients day after day are now vaccinated. I feel relieved to protect myself and my patients, including those too young to be vaccinated in the near future.


Returning home after a full day’s work to social media feeds that publicize conspiracy theories is disheartening. Hesitancy stemming from  baseless claims circulated online undermines public health. The CDC reports that at least 70% of our community must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Returning to normal life will not be possible without meeting that critical milestone. 


Whether you are a parent, a caregiver for the elderly or a person who simply cares about others, please get immunized when it’s your turn. We can have a better year if everyone does their part by wearing a mask, social distancing, hand washing, and getting vaccinated.


Dr. Eve Switzer is a board-certified pediatrician with Northwest Pediatrics and member of the Oklahoma Alliance for Healthy Families whose mission is to provide science-based information about vaccines.

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