Sunday, June 20, 2021

VHA (vax hesitant anonymous)

 My name is Sally and I am vaccine-hesitant. I'm here because I am scared about the reactions and expectations of people when they learn that about me and I thought if I shared it here, it won't be such a shock for my friends and family when they see me in person. 

My concern is strictly on long term effects. I don't buy into any of the computer chip, anti-science rhetoric, but the companies producing the vaccines will be the first to admit that they have no data on long term effects. I understand how the vaccines work, both the mRNA and otherwise, and I understand the work that has gone on for decades prior to these being available today. Many will think that I have been influenced by radicals or extremists, but the truth is that I just want more information and time before making a decision.

To be clear I'm not all-vaccine-hesitant. All my own and my kids' vaccines are up to date and I believe in the importance of herd immunity against diseases that we know have saved pain and strife for so many over the decades. I had hesitancy against H1N1 when it was all the stir, but ended up taking the kids in for that one as well. 

I will not be supporting my children getting the Covid-19 vaccine in the near future. 

I got my own first dose of Pfizer in early June and it was under duress and great anxiety, but I knew that my province would not allow me to freely visit my out-of-province family without it. Since long term effects is my concern, it is less of a concern for me than what I perceive for children. 

When I compare the data of children contracting Covid as well as the data around children getting ill from Covid, to the data of myocarditis showing up in adolescents (particularly boys) following the vaccine, I cannot wrap my head around justifying the vaccine for kids. Some science suggests that children can pass the disease to others, but with vaccine rates so high, especially vulnerable populations, I continue to struggle to understand the pressure on 12 year olds to receive a shot that carries more risk than the risks associated with the extremely low rates of Covid symptoms in kids. 

None of this opinion should matter, except that my home province of PEI has made it very burdensome to travel without vaccination. For example, my two children who are over 12 and have not been vaccinated will be required to isolate for 8 days upon returning from NB to visit their grandparents who they haven't seen in 7 months. This means they are not to leave the property to go to the beach, to go to sports, to see friends, etc. Given that we usually go to NB every second weekend, that would give them roughly 4 days every two weeks of 'freedom'. Their isolation includes multiple trips to the testing clinic 20 minutes away, and they cannot be tested at the check point at the border, so thats another special trip. 

But again, none of this is even the greatest concern for me. It was a recent moment at a bonfire with friends when it became clear that one friend felt that vaccines should be mandatory and children without them should be kept separate from those who have the shot. I knew these opinions existed, but I foolishly assumed that it would be those on the fringes. Just as I'm sure she thought that those who weren't getting their kids vaccinated were on the fringes. I suspect we surprised each other and it was helpful to hear the perspectives of others. 

But as I slipped away from the fire to take some deep breaths and consider what I was feeling, I realized that a lot of my anxiety about going home, finally, after all these months, lie in worry over the opinions I'll meet there.  Will my assumption that family ties are stronger than emotions about vaccine choice prove true? Can I hug everyone without worrying that someone will turn away? Will I be invited to all family events, knowing that some in my small family have chosen not to vaccinate? Will anyone confront me and share anger over my choices? Will my 'home' be a safe place? 

It's this anxiety over what this pandemic has done to relationships that breaks my heart and keeps me up at night. I 100% support the choice of everyone to do what feels right for them. I am so glad that there is a vaccination that helps people feel safer and able to move around again. If it doesn't make me feel safer, and in fact feels scary, where do I stand with the people I love? Can we agree to disagree or is my family a perceived threat to those who feel vaccination is necessary? I'm at a loss to reconcile these parts of who I am and I am so tired of the all-consuming space its taken up in my head and heart. 

So there it is. Are we ok?