Editor’s word: On August 23, 2021, the FDA granted full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals ages 16 and older. Kids ages 12 to fifteen can proceed to obtain this vaccine underneath emergency use authorization as extra information is collected.
I’ve a confession: in late 2020, when the primary COVID-19 vaccines had been approved by the FDA, I used to be hesitant to get one myself. Regardless of working in public well being and believing strongly in vaccines to maintain our neighborhood wholesome, I used to be anxious about placing one thing in my physique that appeared so new. I assumed: “What if the vaccine is harmful?” “What about long-term negative effects?”
I’m a part of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood. Our historical past could assist clarify why I hesitated.
Are LGBTQ+ individuals extra hesitant to get the vaccine?
In March a New York Instances article reported that LGBTQ+ persons are extra hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. A analysis examine from the Human Rights Marketing campaign reported blended findings: whereas LGBTQ+ individuals general usually tend to get vaccinated, sure subgroups, comparable to LGBTQ+ individuals of coloration and bisexual ladies, are much less more likely to get vaccinated.
LGBTQ+ individuals have good cause to be hesitant about vaccines. Traditionally, this inhabitants has skilled — and continues to expertise — discrimination in a number of settings, together with in healthcare. On the similar time, this inhabitants is extra susceptible to COVID-19 (see this examine and an earlier weblog put up I wrote). LGBTQ+ people who find themselves additionally individuals of coloration could also be much more hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, due to trauma and oppressions based mostly on a number of intersecting marginalized identities that set the stage for distrust in healthcare and medical analysis. We are able to embrace racism, transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia amongst such oppressions.
Weighing the dangers and advantages of the COVID-19 vaccine
Once I was attempting to resolve whether or not to get the vaccine, I started studying concerning the vaccine from trusted sources just like the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC). I additionally talked to individuals I do know and belief, like shut buddies, members of the family, and doctor colleagues. I requested them: “Will you get the vaccine when it’s supplied to you?” All of them gave me a powerful “sure!” Most shared this rationale: whereas we nonetheless don’t find out about long-term negative effects, this vaccine is just like different vaccines which were round for some time, and the advantages of getting vaccinated far outweigh the dangers of getting significantly unwell and even dying from COVID-19.
When the vaccine was supplied to me earlier this 12 months, I booked my appointment instantly, with out hesitation, and I haven’t seemed again. As quickly as I acquired the primary shot, and definitely once I was absolutely vaccinated two weeks after my second shot, I felt a profound sense of reduction. I additionally felt empowered about taking an vital step towards retaining myself, my household, and my neighborhood secure from COVID-19. I now really feel safer and freer in my day by day life. I am going into shops (sporting a masks) with out feeling anxious, and I’ve been capable of go to in-person with different absolutely vaccinated individuals, like my mother, with out masks.
Why the vaccine is crucial for LGBTQ+ communities
Quite a few “pandemics” have already worn out giant numbers of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood: HIV/AIDS, violence, suicide. As well as, the COVID-19 pandemic has already disproportionately harmed LGBTQ+ individuals (see this examine and this report). LGBTQ+ seniors and other people of coloration are at biggest threat for critical, probably life-threatening sickness from COVID-19. If every of us takes steps to get vaccinated, we are able to stop extra deaths and detrimental well being outcomes in our communities.
How will you empower your self to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Educate your self on what COVID-19 vaccines are, how they work, and why they’re secure.
- Speak to trusted consultants and other people in your life about your fears.
- Right now, everybody within the US who’s age 16 or older is eligible for the vaccine, so you can also make an appointment the place you reside to get vaccinated.
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