Seeking, Sharing the Truth About the COVID-19 Vaccine

A Rush faculty member reflects on getting vaccinated, reaching communities of color
Monique Reed, PhD, RN

I figured I would spend the 15 minutes of mandatory observation after getting vaccinated sharing the experience. At this point, the COVID-19 injection feels no different than the annual flu shot.

Or for those that don’t get the annual flu shot — think about the required vaccinations you and/or your children received in order to attend public school or work in certain places of employment.

There are risks to each of those also, which typically affect very small numbers of our community. Please consult your primary care provider if you have known allergies to the ingredients in the vaccine, such as certain lipids .

These allergies do not include typical seasonal or food allergies, so again, please consult your PCP before listening to the word on the street.

'No shortcuts'

There is a lot of valid mistrust in government (the current administration has not helped this cause) and the scientific community — from the historical atrocities as well as daily systemic racism and oppression of marginalized communities.

This is real, and we must continue to fight racism. The COVID-19 vaccine, however, is not that. It is a vaccination that was created under unprecedented collaboration from all scientific communities and advanced technologies to fight a pandemic that has infected millions and brought worldwide economies to a halt.

There were no shortcuts taken in the trials, and all three phases of the trials have shown success.

It is true we do not yet know details on long-term side effects. This form of the virus has been present since December 2019, although related forms such as SARS and MERS existed. The COVID-19 vaccine has only been tested since March 2020, so data is available since then.

What we do know is acquiring COVID-19, especially in communities of color, has meant disproportionate death rates. For all those that prefer to take the natural route or herd immunity, we also know that while healthy eating and physical activity helps to avoid many chronic diseases and keeps our inflammation regulated, it has not been a cure or valid defense for COVID-19.

Healthy people are acquiring the disease, and if not dying, they are experiencing prolonged adverse side effects and passing it on to others who can die.

'Our brother's keeper'

It’s no surprise that the general public is wary of the health care community. We have done this to ourselves. The health care community does need to check ourselves and work tirelessly to repair years of damage. (We even do it to our own — Dr. Susan Moore, RIP.)

But we have to do two things at once:

  1. Work to repair a broken relationship with communities
  2. Educate community leaders so the public knows the facts. Community leaders and community health workers are key stakeholders that the health care community must connect with and can be credible resources of information. Now is not the time to boast credentials. We must create and build on established relationships with community leaders to fight this pandemic together. A lie will spread so much faster than the truth, so we have a lot of work to do. We have to be our brother’s keeper and tell someone the truth about the vaccine today: Please make an informed decision.

Well, my 15-minute observation time is over, and I’m cleared to go. When your time comes to get the shot, please make your decision based on facts not myths or conspiracy theories.

Vaccination update

My brothers and sisters have asked for vaccination updates after the first 15 minutes; following are my updates:

  • Day 1: My arm was sore, achy feeling at the injection site. I used to get that soreness with the flu shot but haven’t in the last 3 years. There was no redness, fever or swelling just noticeable soreness starting about 10 hours after I was vaccinated at the site of injection. Soreness is a common side effect. I received my vaccination in my non-dominant arm just in case I experienced soreness so it would not interfere with me cooking Christmas dinner.
  • Day 2: No noticeable soreness at the injection site unless I touched it with moderate pressure then the site was mildly tender.
  • Day 3: Some stomach bloating and weight gain ... but that was from the extra holiday food on day one and two - so really there were no signs or symptoms related to Covid-19 vaccination.
  • Day 4: No signs or symptoms to report. Just tears of joy knowing that with the second injection (which is 21 days from the first injection if you get Pfizer or 28 days for Moderna) a person can have 95% immunity from COVID-19.

I’ll let you know how the second shot goes in 21 days. Happy Kwanzaa & Happy New Year!

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