Why did I get vacciniated?

joseph's picture

A vaccine-hesitant acquaintance asked why I chose to get vaccinated.  

They pointed out, correctly, that as a relatively healthy mid-aged person with a well-functioning immune system, there was a relatively small chance that a Covid infection would pose a serious risk to my health.  And, correctly, that any medical intervention, vaccination included, comes with a risk of complications or negative side-effects, of which some have been documented and others may as yet be unknown.

So they wanted to know -- why would I take such a personal risk for so little perceivable benefit?

For whatever it's worth, here's my answer:

  1. My primary reason to get vaccinated is to protect the health of others around me.  I live with an immune-compromised person for whom the vaccine is likely less effective and have close relations with many who are more vulnerable.  It seems to me an incredibly small price to reduce the risk to those people for whom I care most, to protect them from an infection I might otherwise be more likely to transmit to them.
  2. No emergency medical service is available in my community.  If someone falls seriously ill from Covid on Lasqueti, the risk of complications or death is vastly increased simply by the time-lag between calling for help and arriving at hospital.  There is not much I wouldn't do to avoid being part of a chain of transmission that resulted in one my neighbours suffering or dying.
  3. The most significant societal danger from Covid arises from exponential growth in cases, which in turn can swiftly overrun a medical system's ability to cope.  When this happens, an entire medical system can collapse, causing widespread suffering and death both from viral and non-viral causes.  We've seen this during various outbreaks around the world, and now here in Canada where "non-essential" procedures are again being cancelled.  That's hitting close to home as one of Lasqueti's elders is in dire need of an operation, without which she is practically immobile.  But hospitals are too busy treating Covid patients, so she spends the winter suffering.  I definitely don't want to be any part of that problem.
  4. Evaluation of risk has 2 factors:  likelihood and consequence.  So even an unlikely event can still be high risk if the consequence is severe.  Thus, even though my likelihood of hospitalization or death may be low, the risk may be unacceptably high.  If one factors in the negative impacts associated with long-Covid, that risk becomes unpalatable.  Factor in the consequence of transmitting the disease to a vulnerable friend or taking a hospital bed away from someone else in need, and the evaluation of risk becomes clear - I should do everything I can to avoid contracting a serious case of Covid.  By contrast, with literally billions of doses now in arms, the risks from adverse side effects are miniscule.

No doubt you may be clamouring with but, but but...  what about...  you just need to...

And, you are right - I have no claim to special knowledge here, at all, and am not saying I have the answer, nor am I advocating that my choice is the right choice for everyone.   I'm only saying that to me the decision to vaccinate isn't a calculation of personal risk, it is about a social obligation to keep those around us safe and hospital beds open for those who need them. And I feel confident it was the right choice for me. 

However you choose to protect yourself and those around you, please stay safe.  There's a wave crashing on our shores and it'd be good if no one gets swept overboard.


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