I’m Skeptical of Everything, But Here’s Why I Vaccinated My Child
As someone who feeds his son organic milk, kept him in a car seat way too long, and still won't let him walk in a parking lot without holding my hand, I had some major vaccine concerns.
Now, I'm not going to try to convince you to do anything, but I will tell you why the biggest helicopter parent and skeptic in the Hudson Valley finally decided to get their child vaccinated against COVID.
Decades ago, I was offered a brand new vaccine that was being tested to eradicate Lyme disease. Not wanting to be the subject of an experiment, I declined the vaccine and was glad I did. Reports of long-lasting side effects and a lack of protection from Lyme disease soon flooded local newscasts, with people calling the vaccine a terrible failure. Whether these reports were actually true (many doctors say the side effects were widely exaggerated, and the vaccine did help reduce Lyme disease) I was happy that my skepticism kept me from giving in to pressure from my doctor.
So, you could probably imagine my concern when a vaccine was "fast-tracked" by President Trump to combat the global pandemic. Would it be safe? What side effects would pop up down the road? Would it even really work?
I consumed as much information as I could about the COVID-19 vaccine. Sadly, most of what I found was junk science or skewed opinions both for and against the vaccine with no real data or statistics to back it up. But then, the studies started to roll in and it showed that the vaccine not only worked but worked really well. I still wasn't sold, worried about the possible side effects.
As COVID continued to kill people that I knew and kept me isolated from my friends and family I felt helpless. That's when I decided to take a leap, do the patriotic thing and take the vaccine. I never had to sacrifice anything for my country, so being one of the first to get the vaccine so others may eventually get protected was something I was honored to do. Thanks to some health issues I was able to be in the early rounds of the vaccine and happily rolled up my sleeve.
Since then I've had two rounds and a booster shot. And I'm certainly not the only one. Worldwide there have been 7.78 billion doses of the vaccine administered. This is the most scrutinized and reported-on vaccine in history. With such a huge spotlight on the COVID-19 vaccine and so many people rooting for it to fail, any serious problems would have surely been uncovered and telegraphed to the world by now. After a minuscule number of people reported rare blood clots, the J&J vaccine was even halted over an abundance of caution. The fact that it's now widely distributed with fewer side effects than pretty much any other vaccine in history makes me feel pretty good about the oversight that's going on.
Now that the vaccine is finally available for children over five, I'm happy to say that my son has already received round one and we are anxiously waiting for him to be fully vaccinated. Getting just 10 micrograms of a vaccine that has an impressive safety record for the 3.5 billion people who've already taken it at much higher doses seems like a pretty safe bet.
While it's true that children are still at low risk of getting dangerously sick or dying from COVID-19, that's not the reason people get vaccinated. I know from high school science class that vaccines aren't a protective shield given to one person. Vaccines are designed to protect an entire population of people. We don't get the measles shot because we think we'll die from the measles, we get it to stop the disease from being transmitted through our community so quickly, reaching those who are at risk from it.
The same holds true for the COVID-19 vaccine. I would feel awful if my son unwittingly carried the virus to his grandparents, who are susceptible to the disease even though they're vaccinated. If the vaccine stops him from passing the disease to someone you love who may be susceptible to the virus it will be well worth it.
Many parents are waiting for a bit to see how other children react to the vaccine, and that's great. I know several friends who are constantly checking in to see how our son is doing after getting vaccinated. His healthy reaction to the vaccine, the ability to start going maskless in public again, and the sigh of relief we feel around our older family members are slowly convincing others in our circle to get their children vaccinated, and that's a good thing.
So, if an overprotective parent who doesn't really trust anyone can get their child vaccinated, perhaps you may want to take another look at it for your family. While it feels good to finally have our child protected, it feels even better to know that we're finally no longer powerless to do something to protect everyone else out there in the Hudson Valley as well.