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BR Parents Blog - We Are All Irreplaceable: Deciding to Get My COVID Vaccine

First published on the Baton Rouge Parents magazine website.

I am someone who loves science, at least as a bystander and beneficiary. I even wrote about the benefits of animal research in my high school English class for our persuasive essay assignment, convinced science was critical to my survival of jaundice as an infant. Right now, I am in awe of science and particularly amazed at the work that’s gone into so quickly creating successful vaccines against this pandemic-causing novel coronavirus.

When my turn to get a vaccine for COVID-19 came up, I did not hesitate. I had already been looking to get vaccinated via waste lists at local pharmacies–several moms I know in my circles had success that way. A waste list is filled with people who are willing to come at a moment’s notice to get a vaccine should there be one that’s otherwise going to be wasted or expired. But when Governor Edwards expanded eligibility to include people 16-54 with certain health conditions that make them more susceptible to bad outcomes if they were to get COVID, I was able to make an appointment. 

I’ve written before about my fat body and how I know its value is not tied to its size. Just before and during the pandemic summer, I lost some weight intentionally, kind of as a mid-life effort before my 40th birthday last Thanksgiving. My body became no longer morbidly obese but just obese. My current BMI of 31 is enough for me to qualify for vaccine priority. Thanks, obesity! 

On Friday the 13th in March 2020, our family’s life turned upside down along with the world. That was my girls’ last day of school before it shut down for the school year, and lunch that day was the last time I’ve eaten inside a restaurant (shout out to Izzo’s Illegal Burrito and my lunch date Carol). One year later, almost to the day, I got my first dose of the vaccine. The actual experience was quick and easy. I’m adept at online appointment making, so that part was simple. At the pharmacy, I was in and out within a half hour, including the 15 minute wait time to be sure there were no bad side effects. The shot itself felt like a flu shot, just a little pinch. Nothing I couldn’t handle.

My husband, bless his healthy heart, isn’t in a priority group yet. But the day after I made my appointment, one of the pharmacies where I’d signed up for a waste list called and I was able to make an appointment for him. We received our first vaccines at separate pharmacies within a couple hours of each other. I’m Team Moderna (thanks, Dolly!) and he’s Team Pfizer–just by chance, not design. Whatever vaccine was available was the one we were going to accept.

Although I know it’s getting ahead of myself, I’m already starting to ponder a summer that includes more than just our family unit of four. Of course our daughters, almost five and nine, can’t be vaccinated yet, although I know scientists are working on that too. But as more and more adults are vaccinated, the virus should be less of a threat or likelihood for kids? In any case, I think we’ll be able to see grandparents who live in other states, maybe hit the beach (Dollywood even?!). I am just excited to be able to peruse Target without feeling so anxious!

While getting vaccinated is a great thing personally, for my own mental health and reducing risks to my physical health, it also has societal implications. Every person who is vaccinated will be one less susceptible to dying from this dreadful disease. I mourn the nearly 10,000 Louisianans, the more than 500,000 Americans, and the 2.6+ million worldwide who have died. We are all irreplaceable, which is something I remind myself when getting the annual flu shot. That was certainly on my mind when I got this vaccine as well.

Have you been able to get vaccinated? I’d love to hear about your experience or thought process in the comments.