“I don’t think we should get vaccinated, at least not yet. My friend told me there are many bad side effects from the vaccine,” my mom said to me.

Her reservations were what many people may have thought when the first vaccines against COVID-19 became available. Health care workers and most government officials strongly recommended that everyone get the vaccine, so we could put a stop to the pandemic. However, people also heard rumors and dubious information from friends, family, neighbors and the internet, leaving many skeptical.

Some of the comments I heard included the following:

“The government is tracking us with the vaccine.”

“The vaccine will alter my DNA.”

“You will get COVID even if you take the vaccine, so what’s the point?”

“How do you know if it’s safe? It became available in such a short amount of time.”

According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, as of this writing the United States has recorded 40.5 million total confirmed COVID cases and 649,299 deaths in the last 30 days. With the school year starting again and millions of students returning to on-campus classes, it is essential for everyone to get vaccinated and not fall prey to false information.

What exactly does the COVID-19 vaccine do to our body?

COVID-19 vaccines use mRNA (Messenger Ribonucleic Acid) to deliver immunity. They teach our body to make antibodies that will fight the virus. When our cells process mRNA, a part of the cell called the ribosome translates and follows the mRNA instructions to build the encoded protein. After taking the vaccine, our bodies are able to recognize COVID-19 and protect us by making us less likely to contract the virus.

According to the CDC, only 53.3% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, yet the vaccine is completely free for anyone living in the United States. Anyone 12 years and older can simply walk in a pharmacy or clinic near them and get vaccinated. There is no need for appointments or payments; some states even administer cash rewards to the vaccinated. A program called “You Call the Shot, California” presented a tempting incentive: Anyone living in California who got their first vaccination between May 27-July 18 was eligible to receive a $50 gift card. When I got my first vaccine with my mom and dad, we happened to be in line during this time period, so we each received a $50 gift card. Like California, many states have run similar programs to encourage their residents to get vaccinated. Yet, even when communities are giving money to people simply for getting vaccinated, there are still people who refuse.

Why does this happen? Part of the reason might stem from the sources where we get our information. We have to make sure that what we are hearing, reading and saying about the COVID-19 vaccine is reliable and credible. It’s easy to read a myth or hear a rumor about the vaccine and believe it. Since anyone can post material on social media, it is important to check what we read before believing it, and worse, spreading it. The best way to gather information about the COVID-19 vaccine is to ask a trusted health care professional. According to the CDC, other reliable and credible online sources to learn about the COVID-19 vaccine are the websites for the Medical Library Association, the Immunization Action Coalition and the World Health Organization.

Since vaccines of all types became available to people, there have always been people who refused to get them. Choosing to not get vaccinated even when you are able to is a selfish decision because getting vaccinated could help end this ongoing pandemic. We cannot turn back time, so life will never return to how it was before the pandemic started. However, we can heal and work toward a new normal in life by getting vaccinated. Americans are very privileged to have access to the vaccine while other countries are desperate to get enough. COVID-19 has affected everyone’s life in the past year. We have to stop letting politics and excuses prevent us from getting vaccinated. We must come together and put an end to this deadly pandemic.

Eileen Liu is a ninth grader at Menlo-Atherton High School. In her free time, she enjoys researching and writing about current issues happening in the world. She lives in Menlo Park.

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(7) comments

Tommy Tee

Great essay--spot on.

Thanks to our great Governor:

California is now 1 of only 3 states to exit CDC’s ‘high’ COVID transmission category

California no longer has “high” community levels of coronavirus transmission, according to data published Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state joins two others, Vermont and Connecticut, in improving to reach the “substantial” tier of the agency’s risk chart for the first time since the rapid spread of the delta variant brought the summer COVID-19 surge.

California is the only large state to advance from the worst category, color-coded red on the CDC map, to the second-highest risk category, orange, state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said Tuesday.

Ahead of the latest wave of infections in July, it was classified as yellow, indicating a lower level of transmission classified as “moderate.” In June, it was blue, which signals “low” virus spread.

Pan credited high vaccination uptake and widespread compliance with health orders as factors in driving case rates down. About 68% of California’s residents are now fully vaccinated.

“Our mitigation measures, like masking, are going to work regardless of the variant,” Pan said during a roundtable discussion with medical professionals on Tuesday.

Terence Y

Ms. Liu, a few things… I’m absolutely positive that almost 650,000 people in the US have not died in the last 30 days, at least not from COVID. As for immunity, these COVID vaccines do not ensure immunity. If they did and were proven to be safe then maybe people would have more confidence in them. However, according to VAERS, people have experienced over 618,000 adverse events due to the jab, including almost 7500 deaths, over 9000 life threatening side effects, almost 8500 permanent disabilities and over 34,000 hospitalizations.

As for the vaccine being free, do you really think Pfizer, Moderna, or any other vaccine producer is paying out of pocket to give out free vaccines? Sorry, but taxpayer dollars are paying for these “free” vaccines. These companies are likely paid per dose and it’s no wonder they would be amenable to people taking 3 or 4 or annual doses until you die, due to age or the jab. Don’t forget, taxpayer dollars are paying out $50 bribes to take the jab. Unfortunately, as you may soon learn, or maybe you already have, income taxes are due from earned income and will be used for much “free” things. Which your parents are paying for, you’ll be paying for, and your kids will be paying for.

As for the CDC being a reliable and credible online source, unfortunately, they’ve lost their credibility with to and fro decisions based upon sometimes dubious data. You remember, don't wear a mask, wear a mask, wear two masks, vaccinated people don't need masks, vaccinated people need masks, etc.

We have to stop letting politics and questionable reasoning coerce us into getting vaccinated. Especially with a jab that does not provide immunity. If one is vaccinated, hopefully, that was their choice. Why are they now pushing their selfish choice onto someone else? Your body, your choice.

Tafhdyd

Terence,

Would you rather have an adverse event or a funeral? Anyone can report an adverse event to VAERS, and they encourage people to do so, even if the event is not known to be directly related to the vaccine injection. A simple soreness in the arm, a headache even if you drank too much the night after the shot, or fainting at the sight of the needle all can be reported as adverse events. 600,000 events from over 380 million injections sounds like a good trade off. Once again, a sore arm or a funeral? BTW how are you doing with your bamboo fibers?

Terence Y

Taffy, I didn’t realize your two choices were the only two available. In reality, some folks were unfortunate enough to get the two for one deal because their adverse effect from taking the jab was death. However, you conveniently forgot to mention the approximately 99% successful third option – not taking the jab. Then I wouldn’t need to worry about adverse effects or death from the jab. Just as you’re implying VAERS numbers can be manipulated (by the people), we already know COVID deaths have been manipulated considerably (by the government) to the upside. As always, your body, your choice. BTW, how IS your panda scat study going?

Tafhdyd

Terence,

TRTRT. You are the one that brought up pandas, you should ask yourself. BTW, how are you doing with your bamboo fibers?

Terence Y

Oh dear, Taffy Resigned To Rubbish Talk because he has nothing of value to add. TRTRT indeed! Now Taffy is disavowing his own panda scat study? Maybe Taffy can segue over to a mask study to again verify that masks don’t work. Remember, your body, your choice.

craigwiesner

Thank you! I remember when I was chatting with someone who told me she didn't want to get the vaccine and she asked me what I'd heard about it. I told her that I knew around 200 people who lived and worked in one building who had all gotten the vaccine and they were all just fine. "200 people?!?!?" "Yup, everyone in a senior living community got the vaccine early on and they were all just fine."

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