The decisions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine

Mixed messages from both sides make for a confusing decision process

Ali Smith, Arts & Leisure Editor

Since the Food and Drug Administration’s first considerations and eventual Emergency Use Authorization and full approval to combat the COVID-19 virus, the COVID-19 vaccine has been the subject of a huge debate.

Honestly, this battle was reflected in my mind as well, as I struggled to come to a conclusion about the right decision for my body.

Although I was afraid of the vaccine at first, mostly because of the controversy and drama surrounding it, I eventually made the choice over the summer to get the first dose of my Pfizer vaccine.

Let me tell you: this choice was not an easy one.

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, pressure comes from all directions.

Religious family members or government skeptics share their opinions on the dangers of the vaccine without prompt.

Firm believers in science and human advocates press in about how it is on our shoulders to stop the spread of the virus.

As someone who is surrounded by a fair mix of these influences and finds myself aligning with ideologies from both sides of these extreme spectrums, the decision to get vaccinated was a choice that took me a great while to arrive at.

However, once I made the choice, I was committed to it. For me, it came down to my job as a teacher, and my desire to protect my students and return all classrooms to normalcy as soon as possible.

I also wanted to protect my grandparents, especially my grandfather, who at the time of my choice had been six months into chemotherapy for terminal cancer.

For me, it was a selfless decision, although I understand the fear and the reservations behind it, especially as someone who struggles with chronic stomach issues and a reproductive disorder that might limit my ability to bear children someday.

But I have been really focusing on living in the now, and even have “day-by-day” tattooed on my ribcage as a reminder of this.

At the time of my decision, I recognized my right to personal choice about what happens to my body, and took charge of it for the sake of protecting those around me.

After my second dose, I became intensely feverish, accompanied with chills, aches, sweating and nausea. Not to mention the fatigue.

These flu-like symptoms were miserable, but they didn’t compare even remotely to the symptoms I had when I contracted COVID19, which I realize could have been far more extreme without the vaccine.

So, when it came time for my booster Friday in Yehl Ballroom, I was nervous about being knocked down for a couple of days, especially in the peak of my semester and on Valentine’s Day weekend. Not to mention I am scared of shots, although I can ironically sit under a tattoo needle for hours.

Returning to my initial decision in the face of my fears, though, I decided to think of my personal purpose for wanting to become vaccinated in the first place: those I care for.

The Allegheny Health Network nurses and Gannon student nurses and staff made this process a really supportive and comfortable one, so I felt safe in that regard.

Directly after the shot, after my anxiety surrounding the prick of the shot itself settled, I felt fine, and went about my day normally, clocking into work and passing my work wellness check.

After a couple hours, I did become tired and fell asleep pretty early, but my anticipated fever did not come until the night time.

Fevers are never fun, and the chills and aches were especially brutal to wake up to in the middle of the night, but luckily they didn’t last long, and I was on the road to recovery come morning.

I was still pretty tired for the rest of the weekend and slept a lot more than usual, but by Monday I was feeling back to 100% and ready to face campus with my new boosted status.

Sometimes I still let the clamor, opinions and fear get to my head, but in times like these, I can feel confident in the face of these encounters that I made the best possible decision for my body with my motivators in mind, which I encourage everyone to consider in the face of such a big decision.  


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