This week’s blog is written by Dion McGill, SCY Communications and Community Outreach Manager.
This Friday, January 23rd, 2021 I will receive my second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. When I posted a picture on Facebook receiving my first dose, a train of negative comments came in. People warned me of a litany of side effects to expect, coupled with their doubling down of reticence of receiving the vaccine. Most of the responses ended with some variation of,
“Let us know how it goes!”
It went fine. The most reported side effect was soreness at the injection site, which I personally did not experience. I had no ill-effects at all, although I can also report that the vaccine injection did not improve my insomnia at all. However, I am super excited to receive my 2nd dose, primarily to be part of the solution towards an America post COVID-19, but also for some semblance of peace of mind. Now, according to the FDA, the most common side effects reported with the Pfizer vaccine are:
- Pain at the injection site
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Of note, more people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose, so it is important for vaccination providers and recipients to expect that there may be some side effects after either dose, but even more so after the second dose
None of that sounds pleasant for sure, however, I have had friends who’ve had COVID-19, and most of what they endured trumps everything on that list, not to mention the friends who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 complications. I’ll take a little discomfort over the alternative. I also took all of this in consideration when booking my appointment, which is why it’s on Friday. Post vaccination, I plan on heading home, crawling in bed with a good book, and just relaxing in the event I do experience any side effects.
Now, I understand the reservations of many people about the vaccine in general, however, I think a lot of it simply stems due to lack of information. A frequent question I hear is “They came up with that vaccine way too fast for it to be safe!” Well, you have to keep in mind that this is a pandemic, a worldwide event, and in response — the greatest minds in the world collaborated to find a solution. Unlike most instances where researchers silo their information, researchers actually shared information and built upon each others success and failures to find a solution in record time.
As a side note, imagine if we attacked all of our issues in this method; with collaboration rather than competition, but that is a topic for another blog.
Also, as a black man and historian, I understand the reticence of particularly black and brown communities to engage in unproven medical efforts. We have to acknowledge that these communities rightfully hold distrust for the medical community. To quote a fabulous NPR article on this topic that you can find here:
“In the Black community, there is skepticism that relates to historical experiences, and mistrust based on the discrimination that Black Americans face in the health care system and in the rest of society. It’s really well-founded,” says Dr. Lisa Cooper, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, and a former MacArthur ‘genius’ fellow for her work in health disparities.”
However, I encourage my black and brown brothers and sisters to dig into the information available, from a variety of sources, and consider the fact that our communities are being infected and dying at a faster rate than other communities from COVID-19. It becomes imperative for us to be courageous in the face of fear, if not for yourself, for the people around you. And the fact that I’m halfway through the vaccine process is proof positive that I am more than willing to practice what I preach.
As the City of Chicago begins launching COVID-19 mass vaccination sites across the city, I encourage you to get your vaccine when the time comes. It’s the only way we can positively move into the next phase of life, post -COVID.