• Tina

To Vaccinate or Not Vaccinate

We all have choices to make; whether it is what to have for breakfast, what path to follow, or how to live our lives, we face daily decisions. Some of these choices are easier than others. For example, I know I should drink a shake for breakfast, but the donuts from Aunt Julia's Donuts are available on Saturdays, and they are divine. Sigh. Most of the time, I choose the shake because it is "the right thing" to do for my health. However, there are more significant decisions to make for one's health, like vaccinating or not vaccinating.

I know there are strong opinions on both sides, and I respect those opinions. Today's post is about my individual struggle with what to do. I am not trying to sway anyone to any one side. With that being said, currently, I am on the fence about getting vaccinated, but I am leaning more towards choosing to be vaccinated than not. My situation is a bit unique or individualized, if you will. I have been open about having the autoimmune disease Lupus. When one deals with Lupus, one experiences an overactive immune system that attacks everything, both good and bad. My body is unable to differentiate between a threat and a harmless invader. My body is in attack mode all the time. Suppose one is constantly in attack mode, one tires and weakens over time. For example, a cold is never a cold anymore. My body is unable to fight the common cold germ, and I develop pneumonia. My body also attacks my heart muscle, hence the early onset of heart disease, and it attacks my kidneys. This is all managed with medication and self-care.

I am very cautious about taking medication and vaccinations. When The Bean was an infant and struggling, I chose to delay her vaccinations. Once she was out of the woods, and I was confident she was not compromised in any way, I decided to vaccinate her, but I had the pediatrician break them down into individual shots. It took longer, it was more injections, but it is what I felt comfortable with for my child. For myself, I generally do not take any medication that hasn't been out for at least a decade, and I am a reluctant pill taker. I do not want to take a pill to counteract a side effect caused by another medication. I believe my general practitioner has labeled me "a difficult and reluctant" patient. It's okay. I am difficult; ask The Bibbed Wonder.

In October, I was advised by both my general practitioner and my rheumatologist not to get the vaccine. Both felt a lack of studies and evidence in the efficacy of the vaccine for immunocompromised individuals. Fast forward to May. My second cousin, who had Lupus and heart disease, contracted Covid-19 and passed away. Her body was unable to fight the virus, and she succumbed to its effects after a long hard battle. This dear soul loved animals, all children, and her family with her whole being. She was also strong-willed and opinionated with all things political and virus-related. She was strongly opposed to the vaccine and chose not to receive it. This individual's story has affected me greatly.

I am twenty-ish years younger than her, but we have similar health issues. I certainly don't want to become seriously ill if I can prevent it. However, I am also fearful of the unknown long-term effects of a new vaccine. I am researching the different vaccines on my own, I plan to talk to my rheumatologist later in the month, and I am reading all articles published by the Lupus Foundation. However, it is not a decision I make lightly. It is an even more difficult decision to make with my bean. She will have a say in the matter, but we will also take into strong consideration the advice of her immunologist and pediatrician. These are indeed challenging times in which we are living.

The best thing we can do for one another is respect personal choices. Give people room to come to their decision on their terms and time. What works for one person may not be the answer for another. We also have to understand that we may not have all the details of an individual's story. Often, things are more complicated than they first appear. I hope to have all the answers I need to make my decision by the end of the month. Until then, we will continue to wear our masks and social distance in crowded settings and indoors. I will continue to push handwashing and hand sanitizer onto The Bean and The Bibbed Wonder. I will also continue to wipe everything down with bleach or Lysol Wipes. I believe I have developed a new germ phobia and can no longer poke fun at The Bibbed Wonder for his neurotic ways. This leaves me wide open for further torment and "I told you so." Sigh.

As friendly advice only, stay safe, be smart and keep washing your hands.

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