Opinion by Annika Olson
Updated: Sun, 09 May 2021 16:00:17 GMT
Editor's Note: Annika Olson is the assistant director of policy research at the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis at the University of Texas at Austin and a Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely her own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
I am a healthy 26-year-old who has already received two doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. I felt it was important for me to get the shot -- not only would it powerfully build up my immunity to the novel coronavirus, but it would also help protect those around me.
However, for a lot of my peers, it seems like the vaccine is a serious afterthought. A lot of young people I've talked to do not want to deal with the side effects of the vaccine, like fatigue or chills, while others want to just "wait a while and see" if they really need it. A few people have told me that they are worried about the vaccine hurting their fertility, a concern I see abundantly online.
An April Quinnipiac University poll found that 36% of younger Americans -- under the age of 35 -- don't plan to get vaccinated. That's significantly more than 27% of the overall population and just 10% of older folks who do not want to get a shot.
I understand that there are fears and hesitations about the vaccine, but those who are hesitant need to check their facts. The side effects of the shot are minimal and temporary (yes, I did get super tired after my second vaccine and took a bunch of naps, but I hardly missed any work). I know muscle aches and a fever might be a deterrent, but it means the vaccine is doing its job. Additionally, the Johnson & Johnson blood-clot side effect that led to much concern over the vaccine's safety is incredibly rare -- there are only 15 known cases in 8 million people (that would come out to 15 people in, say, all of New York City, if everyone in the city got the vaccine).
A Behavioral Scientist article published in January sums it up well: "Vaccines protect us from infection by stimulating the creation of antibodies to a specific germ. Side effects like fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle pain are a sign of reactogenicity -- that is, a physical manifestation of a successful immune response."
And there is no evidence that the vaccine might hurt your fertility, let's debunk that right now. I have talked with my friends who are doctors, sifted through Google Scholar articles, and browsed tweets from scientists, and found that the concept of vaccine impeding fertility is nothing more than a myth.
What there is evidence for is that the vaccines are extremely effective against Covid-19. Clinical trials found the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to be between 94% to 95% effective at preventing Covid-19 infections. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine's prevention rate was found to be 66% and none of those who got sick at least four weeks after the shot needed hospitalization. In other words, the odds are you are not going to get sick from Covid-19 if you are fully immunized. Additionally, if you do get a vaccination and still get sick, you most likely will not get seriously ill or die from the disease. Pretty sweet deal, right?
It is equally important to note that we young people are a critical population that should be getting vaccinated to prevent prolonging this pandemic. We are far more likely to spend time in social settings with lots of people, going to bars and restaurants, dancing, etc., especially now that the country has started to relax its curfews and restrictions. If the vaccines are highly effective, and young people aren't getting it, then we will keep spreading Covid-19 amongst ourselves, like we have seen in Michigan where young adults fueled the latest spike in Covid-19 cases.
Is that where we want to be after everything we've been through the past year? I don't think so.
You want to stay healthy, I want to stay healthy, we want our communities safe, and we want to finally get to buy tickets to movies and concerts. To do so, we need to get these vaccinations in our arms. Research shows that they work and side effects are annoying but very minimal.
So go ahead, snap that selfie with a band-aid on your arm to show that you have gotten the vaccine and know that you've done good both for yourself and everyone else. Or, if TikTok is your thing, make a fun video after you've gotten your shot or create a hilarious explainer video about why vaccines are the best. We can do this, fam.
CORRECTION: An earlier version incorrectly described data about the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in preventing hospitalization of Covid-19 patients.