6 great reasons to get the COVID-19 shot
As soon as Lisa Figueroa got her COVID-19 vaccination, she noticed some emotional benefits. “I felt a camaraderie with the other folks at the place where I got my shot, both with the people getting the vaccinations and those giving them,” says Figueroa, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist. “Community is really important to me. It felt good to know we were all there to do what we could to fight this virus together.”
Figueroa’s experience is common. Many people say they felt a big sense of relief after getting the shot. And as the rollout continues, your turn is either already here or coming soon. (All Californians ages 16 and older can sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as of April 15, 2021.) Here are six reasons to get your COVID-19 vaccination.
1. You’ll protect yourself from COVID-19.
Once you’re fully vaccinated, your chances of getting COVID-19 plummets. (At publication, the novel coronavirus had infected more than 30 million Americans and killed more than 556,000.) Even if you’ve had COVID-19, it’s recommended that you get vaccinated. You’ll need two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot.
Scientists believe the shots will offer good protection against the newer strains of the virus, too.
2. You’ll free up hospital resources.
Across the country, COVID-19 has left hospitals struggling with shortages of beds and staff. By getting vaccinated, you can help ease the burden on our healthcare system.
“The data suggest protection from severe illness, indicating that the vaccine could have an impact on preventing hospitalizations and deaths,” said Lindsay Baden, MD, in a press release about the Moderna trials. She’s an infectious disease expert with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Data from the Pfizer and J&J studies indicated this, too.
The resources you free up will benefit not only people with COVID-19 but all hospital patients. And people with life-threatening emergencies can be sure to get the care they need.
3. You’ll contribute to herd immunity.
With any kind of vaccination, we protect ourselves and the people around us. A virus can’t spread without a host. As more people get the shots, the pool of potential hosts shrinks. When enough people are immune, the virus essentially disappears. That tipping point is known as community (or herd) immunity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many childhood diseases are now nearly gone in the U.S. thanks to vaccination campaigns. Polio once disabled more than 35,000 people a year in the late 1940s. Parents were afraid to let their kids go outside for fear they’d catch the virus. But thanks to the vaccine, not a single case has begun in the U.S. since 1979.
This is a good reminder that today’s vaccinations can protect future generations. Learn more about community immunity and COVID-19.
4. You’ll experience increased peace of mind.
The pandemic — as well as the loneliness, fear, and anxiety associated with shutdowns and social isolation — has wreaked havoc on Americans’ mental well-being. In fact, reports of anxiety and depression were up 30% in 2020.
As a therapist, Figueroa can empathize with this blow to the average American’s psyche. The good news is that getting vaccinated can help give you a lift. “There are so many potential benefits from a mental health standpoint,” she says. “Reduction in anxiety and worry about the virus and illness. A sense of empowerment [because] this is something concrete we can do to protect ourselves and others. Hope for the future and a return to some kind of normal.”
Getting vaccinated can also make it easier for people with preexisting mental health conditions — as well as those with new or worsening symptoms — to begin or return to in-person therapy.
5. You’ll inspire others to get vaccinated too.
In a survey of 12,648 U.S. adults published in early December, 39% said they probably or definitely wouldn’t get a COVID-19 vaccination. But about half of those people also said they’d reconsider once they saw how it went for others.
That’s why Figueroa was happy to be among the first Americans to get vaccinated. “If I can help others to feel more comfortable with the vaccine while protecting myself, that’s the best kind of win-win,” she says. And sharing your story of getting the shot might be what persuades a friend or loved one to do the same.
6. You’ll be following your doctor’s advice.
It’s one thing when an expert on TV tells you to get the COVID-19 vaccination. But when your own doctor advises you to get it, that seals the deal. After all, nobody knows as much about your health as the provider who’s been caring for you for years. In a 2018 survey, 73% of people worldwide said they trust a doctor or nurse more than any other source of health advice, including friends, relatives, religious leaders, and celebrities.
“Way back last summer, lots of my patients told me they were hesitant about getting the shot when it came out,” says family physician Kathryn Boling, MD. “So I volunteered to take part in a study so that I could reassure them. I could tell them about any side effects I might have. And if something terrible had happened to me, I would have told them about that too.”
When the vaccines were ready and it was time for her patients to roll up their sleeves, they put their faith in Dr. Boling’s advice. “They trust me to be honest with them. That trust helped them make the decision to get vaccinated themselves. They knew that I had their well-being at heart. So if you trust your doctor, get the shot when they tell you to.”
The information in this story was accurate as of press time and posting. Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to limit the spread of the coronavirus. It’s also important to continue practicing social distancing (keeping at least 6 feet away from people outside your household) and washing your hands frequently. You should also be appropriately masked any time you’ll be in public. According to the CDC’s latest guidance, this means layering a disposable mask underneath a snug-fitting cloth mask or placing a mask fitter over your cloth mask to ensure a tight fit. Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, we encourage readers to follow the news and recommendations for their own communities by using the resources from the CDC, WHO, their local public health department and our COVID-19 member site.
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