Our New Virus

Fear. That was the number one emotion I observed when people were first hearing about vaccine distributions. People were scared of the outcomes and possibilities that they thought could affect seniors, adults, and children who were administered the vaccine. Even people who you would think would understand the vaccine were also cautious. Two of these people were my parents. 

At first my parents were extremely hesitant to even consider getting the vaccine. Rumors spread like its own separate virus, infecting people with different stories, taking control and turning people against each other. Stories were told. People talked through a screen. With their voice.

Now, we have come to the point where Governor Gavin Newsom has finally issued a mandate for students in school to get vaccinated. With no surprise, a walkout protesting the mandate has been scheduled for Monday the 18th.

I, personally, along with many others, had intense stress and anxiety about Ccovid in general, so I was obviously eager to get the vaccine and play my part to help stop the spread of the virus. But my one obstacle was the rumors.

One rumor claimed the vaccine could potentially make women infertile. This lie took over my mom’s consciousness; and she started to believe that this could happen to her own daughter. She would see posts on Instagram and Facebook trying to convince people to be against the vaccine. Ironically, most of the people spreading this lie were men. Human beings who aren’t even capable of giving birth were telling people lies about not being able to give birth! Confusing, isn’t it?

“Absolutely not,” my parents would protest. “I don’t trust this government crap.” “What if they are doing it to control us?” said my dad who usually is filled with reason and logic when making decisions. “No! I don’t want my daughter to not be able to have kids!”, my mom would exclaim, wide eyed and absolutely terrified of the idea of me not being able to birth children. My parents’ comments and ideas were fueled by the media they were consuming on their small screens, which showed them reasons why the vaccine was definitely not a good idea without actually backing up those reasons with facts.

However, here is a huge fact: the more people vaccinated, the less people we have ending up in hospitals. In a large US study done by Pzifer and Kaiser Permanente that was referenced in The New York Times, the decrease in hospitalization rates thanks to the vaccine is clear.

The vaccine “was 93 percent effective against hospitalization from Delta, compared with 95 percent against hospitalization from other variants,” said Sara Tartof, lead author of the study. Protection “against hospitalization remains high over time, even when Delta predominates.”

Although a small number of people have experienced adverse effects from the vaccine, they have proven to be extremely rare, and the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk of infection. Especially when the vaccine would decrease the number of deaths and hospitalizations and eventually help us get back to normal.

Although some people are still hesitant about the vaccine, I encourage them to focus on fact-based, scientific sources. The rumors they read and absorb are one of the reasons why not enough people are getting the vaccine. Here at school and outside in our community, rumors about how dangerous the vaccine is and how it isn’t really necessary to get are spread constantly. 

One big one spread mainly by people who haven’t been affected by the virus or haven’t been vaccinated is that the virus “isn’t a big deal”.

If the virus isn’t a “big deal”, why have so many families lost fathers, mothers, and relatives? We are now approaching 800,000 deaths from COVID-19. Why are people still filling up ICUs and causing shortages of staff? Why do people get- long lasting symptoms from the virus? Why is there a new study out estimating the number of kids who have been orphaned by this pandemic?

People need to see how dangerous spreading misinformation can become for the future of this virus and for this country. We should make it a priority to educate each other on information that is supported by medical professionals and not listen to a random account on Facebook or Instagram. The politicalization of this virus is saddening and completely unnecessary. If we don’t agree on the benefits of the vaccine, we won’t be able to advance as a society because this pandemic won’t end in a few months or years, but a few decades.