I Changed My Mind About the COVID Vaccine
When the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out in December, I had my reservations. Not even a year after the virus surfaced in the US and we already had a vaccine? Was that really enough time for testing? Don’t vaccines usually take years to make?
Besides all my questions, I don’t smoke, am not obese, and don’t have any major health problems. Some years ago I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC), an autoimmune disease, but I’d been in remission and off medication for years. For the very most part, I was a healthy 40 something woman.
Until I wasn’t.
A week before Christmas, symptoms of a UC flare surfaced. I won’t go into the gross details of this disease. You can read what the Mayo Clinic says about it if you really want to know. In short, my immune system had decided the lining of my colon is the enemy. The disease is hereditary for my family. Lucky for me, treatment has come a very long way in the last thirty years. My GI doctor emphatically told me I wouldn’t die of this disease when I was diagnosed. And like I said, after my first flare and treatment I’ve had no problems. Until a couple of weeks before Christmas when I noticed the signs of a flare.
Once my UC flared I had to find a new gastroenterologist. If you remember, we moved last year. Add to that my original GI retired, and since I’d had no problems I hadn’t needed to see the gastro doctor anyway. I underwent a colonoscopy in mid-January which showed more inflammation in my colon than the doctors expected. They also found two types of bacteria.
I went from being a healthy 40-something woman to a woman whose body was fighting itself and multiple infections in the middle of a pandemic. A COVID infection on top of all my body was struggling to do scared me. Would it simply knock me down for a couple of weeks or would I end up in the hospital or worse? And our personal losses to the virus continued to mount.
In Mississippi, our state released the vaccine to people 16-64 with chronic health conditions “as determined by your medical provider.” That opens a very wide door. I asked my GI if she thought I should pursue earlier vaccination. She instructed me to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
Monday of last week the state listed some appointments available in my county, and I signed up. Thursday I sat in line for an hour and took my first shot. My arm was a little achy the next day, but that's the only reaction I experienced.
Turns out mRNA vaccines aren’t really all that new. While they’ve never been on the market before, they’ve been in development for 30 years. Scientists have tested mRNA vaccines on rabbies, Zika, and influenza. None of those illnesses had the urgency to bring a new vaccine to market like COVID-19. They’ve also been used in some cancer treatments. And the benefit of the mRNA vaccine is that it’s faster to produce than older types of vaccines that use pieces of the live virus.
I won’t tell you to run to the nearest vaccination site and get your jab. You have to make that decision youself. Every state has different guidelines about who is eligible. I did my research. I considered my personal health. And I really want to hug my parents without fearing I’m passing on a deadly virus.
For months I’ve prayed God would bring an end to this pandemic. I’ve prayed for a vaccine. I’ve prayed for our scientists and healthcare workers. I believe He can use all of them in His grand plan to end this thing. My God is the God of everything, including science. We’re discounting His sovereignty if we believe He won’t or can’t use innovation in His work.
I’m more worried about not living than I am about dying. Life will never go back to what it was like in 2019. We aren’t those people anymore. But we’re built for community. COVID-19 stole an entire year of life from us. It’s time to take it back.