Have you been wondering if you should get the COVID-19 vaccine?
I have to tell you that I had been stewing over this very question since the virus first reared its ugly head, but as vaccinated loved ones urged me to sign up, and the B.1.1.7 U.K. variant rolled into the great state of Michigan like a steam roller on steroids, I decided I would indeed receive a vaccine.
Hopefully the information I uncovered herein will also help you decide what the best option is for you.
First of all, let’s rehash COVID-19. I know you’ve heard it over and over again, and by now you’re over the panic attacks that a few sneezing or coughing fits used to throw you into.
Most people feel just fine and dandy about contracting COVID-19 because most symptoms reported resembled nothing more than a bad cold. Beliefs of only having mild symptoms like so many have reported win out until the virus is contracted and the awful symptoms bring fears of this little bug possibly ending life… and not in a gentle way!
Symptoms usually appear within 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus and symptoms range from mild to severe. The main symptoms of COVID-19 include:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
According to the CDC, a person infected with the virus may have some symptoms, all symptoms, symptoms not listed here, or no symptoms at all.
That said, so long as symptoms don’t get any worse and oxygen saturation levels stay above 90, you may be able to get through COVID-19 on your own. BUT… whether or not you will have lingering side-effects is unpredictable, even if you have a ‘mild’ case.
Statistics for the 2020 strain determined that 1 in 6 people WILL suffer severe symptoms. Worse symptoms that require calling the doctor or hospital right away include:
Constant pain or pressure in your chest
Bluish lips or face
Being it has been reported that some people have even suffered seizures and stroke from COVID-19 makes watching for these symptoms pretty important. Adding a long list of “possible” long-term effects after contracting the virus such as damage to the heart, lungs, and brain to name a few, the first strain of the virus gave us quite enough to worry about!
So tell me the truth… are you willing to gamble that you will be just fine if you contract COVID-19 over and over again?
Let’s remember that the First Strain mainly attacked older people, or those having underlying health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. With the New Variant already affecting 1/3rd of the U.S. population – mainly 10-29 year-olds who are getting even sicker than people who contracted the first strain, it’s looking like we’re all going to be screwed if we don’t do something!
The only way to stop COVID-19 would be to eradicate it, and the only way to eradicate it would be to reach herd immunity.
Covid is like a chameleon in that it’s changing itself constantly. In 2020, there were 6 strains identified that were sickening people across the globe. As scientists rush to identify the strains that are hanging on like foot fungus, more and more new strains develop.
So far, the illnesses these strains cause are different than the earlier ones, and the rules seem to be changing right before our eyes!
To date, there are 3 main COVID variants we need to worry about:
B.1.1.7 first seen in the U.K. and can transfer quicker between its victims. So far, the U.K. strain has been noted to be 50% more infectious than the strains we saw last year, and rumored to increase the chance of death if you contract it.
B.1.351 first seen in South Africa may be transmitted faster like the U.K. variant, but so far there is no evidence that supports this mutation causes a more severe illness. The biggest issue with the South African strain is that it seems to evade antibodies produced for immunity making it possible to contract this strain even if you have obtained immunity from a previous infection or via vaccination.
P.1 first seen in Brazil is presenting similarly to both of the others in that it may be more transmissible, and immunity ineffectiveness is a possibility. There is little information on this strain as of yet, but evidence gathered thus far is showing that people who contracted Covid in January could very well be sickened by this particular strain again making this mutation one that needs to be monitored closely over the next few months.
Since the very beginning of the pandemic I felt strongly about getting a vaccine whenever it should become available. The difference between my sentiments then versus now is the fact that none of the vaccines are currently FDA approved.
Still, more worries revolved around thoughts of the new, gene-splicing technology in a couple of the vaccines. Being the type of person that prefers the ‘tried and true’, the newer vaccine technologies sounded pretty freaky to me!
Another problem with vaccines outside of the U.S. was the dangerous side-effects some people were experiencing. Would the U.S. vaccines take a similar path?
Thinking the longer I waited, the better my odds were of choosing the ‘right’ vaccine, but waiting wasn’t really an option anymore after Michigan became the “New Epicenter” for the COVID-19 variant.
The U.K. Variant Strikes Michigan
According to the April 18, 2021 Detroit Free Press article, the U.K. variant is “60% more transmissible and 67% more deadly than the original coronavirus,” and Dr. Matthew Sims, director of infectious disease research at Beaumont Health warns, “The spring break surge is about to start.”
With hospitals already busting at the seams with a 470% increase in cases just last week, and people deciding they’re done with COVID so they aren’t doing anything to deter it anymore, I decided the best way I could help combat this virus would be to get vaccinated.
Honestly, I didn’t expect this frantic rise of new Covid cases matching last year’s numbers as scientists had warned, but here we are again! I felt strongly that I needed to make a decision, and get it done fast.
Looking up everything I could find on all the vaccines available in the U.S. including how effective they were against the new variants, I found that the CDC recommended not waiting for a specific brand since all were considered “safe and effective.”
The possible side-effects in all three vaccines (J&J, Moderna & Pfizer-BioNTech) are the same across the board: Pain, redness and swelling in the arm where you got the shot, and tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea starting within 2 days after getting the shot and going away after a few days.
According to a March 12th, 2021 news release by healthline, ALL of the U.S. vaccines are showing various levels of effectiveness against the new variants.
Of the three vaccines available, only the Johnson & Johnson vaccine performed large-scaled clinical trials in all areas of the world where the new variants were present, and showing an overall effectiveness of 66% against ALL strains. After reading that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was ‘old school technology’ and only one shot which would offer protection within 2-weeks of receiving it, I chose this one.
As I stood waiting for the J&J injection at the pharmacy, I felt all of those mixed feelings of worry knotting up in my belly urging me to RUN! But after researching everything I could find about the vaccines, I felt strongly that the only way we could ALL get past this ugly virus was to become immune.
I stood my ground remembering NOT how vaccinated family & friends hounded me to get a vaccine, but my brother’s terrifying, Covid-19 hospital stay to which he said, “You don’t ever want Covid-19 like I had it, Marianne. I didn’t think I was going to make it out of there!”
So I got the vaccine. And then…
All my worries about vaccine side-effects topped news headlines within 5 days after becoming one of the 6.8 million people vaccinated. Johns Hopkins Medicine temporarily paused the use of the J&J vaccine due to 6 cases of severe reactions confirmed in women age 18-48 years old.
Once again, I had to look at the facts to calm myself after hearing from worried friends and family that knew which vaccine I had received. Even though I am older than the women affected, only 6 women out of 6.8 million people vaccinated wasn’t really a game changer, and at this point, I can’t do anything about the stuff floating around in my body now anyway.
Would I have chosen a different vaccine if I could go back? Probably not.
I am hopeful that I made the right choice by opting to become a part of the overall cure rather than allowing Covid-19 to run rampant for a longer and more unpredictable future.
The way I see it, the only way we can truly get ahold of this THING is to get enough fighting antibodies into a large majority of the world population to eradicate it. Without people signing up for a vaccine, Covid mutations will continue to blossom out of control.
If You Opt For Immunity
Know that receiving a vaccine or acquiring immunity from surviving the virus does NOT mean you can’t get the new strains, and you can still spread it too. Opting for immunity by getting a vaccine does mean you will have more fighting power (antibodies) to help you fight off getting deathly sick from the virus.
We must all remain vigil if we are actually going to reach immunity, so PLEASE continue taking the same precautions you took all last year.
Wear your mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds, and continue to watch for updates on the mutated virus so we can all do our part to help minimize its affects.
In closing, I hope this information helps you decide what’s best for you. No matter what, I wish everyone good health and the best of luck as we traverse the unknowns ahead.
Thanks for reading!
NOTE: As of April 25, 2021, the Johnson & Johnson vaccines are again available - the pause lifted by the FDA as the benefits of the vaccine outweighs the risk of having this rare, adverse reaction to the shot. To read more, click here.
CDC, 2019, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/videos/oxygen-therapy/Basics_of_Oxygen_Monitoring_and_Oxygen_Therapy_Transcript.pdf
CDC, March 16, 2021, Possible Side-effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/expect/after.html
CDC, March 29, 2021, People with Certain Medical Conditions, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html
CDC, April 13, 2021, Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/safety-of-vaccines.html
Johns Hopkins Medicine, April 13,2021, Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine pause: What You Need to Know from Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/jj-vaccine-pause.html
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Seladi-Schulman, Ph.D., Jill, March 12, 2021, How Many Strains of the Coronavirus Are There? https://www.healthline.com/health/how-many-strains-of-covid-are-there#vaccine-protection
WebMD, Symptoms of Coronavirus, https://www.webmd.com/lung/covid-19-symptoms#1-3
Weise, Elizabeth & Weintraub, Karen, April 25, 2021, Pause on Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine in US lifted by FDA, use to resume, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/04/23/johnson-johnson-covid-vaccine-use-us-should-resume-no-warning/7350565002/