The Moderna Vaccine and My Last-Minute Decision

by Amber — April 28, 2021
Syringes full of pink liquid on a pink background, [vaccine hesitancy, Moderna vaccine]

This mother was vaccine hesitant about Covid-19. She unpacks her fears and finds out more about the Moderna vaccine before making a decision.

Sign in English and French "Immunization Clinic Enter Here

Just minutes ago, I was sitting in a once empty clothing store, now vaccination centre, waiting to see if I would have a reaction to my first shot of the Moderna vaccine. Moments before that I listened as the kind nurse walked me through the process. She asked if I was pressured into having the vaccine and went on to list all the ways I’d know if I was having a reaction and what to do if I did. Continue the rewind to waking up this morning and knowing that I had time to opt out of this appointment. And then all the way back to December, when the conversation started. Will you get the vaccine?

It’s no secret to those close to me, that I was on the fence about getting my vaccine. Or more accurately, I reserved the right to take my time to make my decision. I am not an anti-vaxer… I have all my vaccinations and so do my children. Despite my confidence in these long tested medical preventions, I couldn’t gather the same amount of confidence for the Moderna vaccine.

I’m still putting the pieces together, trying to understand why I took my time making this decision. I think the most important reason is that I don’t take medication lightly. My family doctor suits me because she focuses on diet and not prescriptions. I dab essential oils on my temples for headaches, drink tea or have a hot bath when I have a tummy ache. When I have a cold or the flu, I wait it out. If I have a choice, I choose to go without medication.

Covid-19 speech bubbles: "Let's stay safe, together!" "I did it to protect my community" "I did it for the ones I love" #COVIDFreeNWT

The next layer to peel back, was that getting the vaccine didn’t feel like a choice. While it’s presented as one, it doesn’t really feel like it. There is pressure. If I don’t get the vaccine what does the future hold for me? Will I be allowed to leave my home? My introverted self finds this appealing… but my travel lovin’ soul would push me towards the needle. If the boarders open up, I want to cross them.

And, of course, the idea of being part of the solution made me feel guilty for even considering not getting my dose. So, while there was no obvious pressure, it’s there. If you don’t do it, you’re labelled. If you do, you’re something akin to a hero….

It helped to know that the Moderna vaccine had crossed miles of red tape faster than any other vaccine because the whole world needed it, but left me wondering did they skip steps to get there? Money and volunteers for testing were not in short supply, again, because the whole world wanted this to happen.

It was an article in Forbes, which told its reader’s that this isn’t a new vaccine, only a modified one, that sealed the deal. A day after it was available to me, I made my appointment. Though, I Intentionally picked the last available spot, to give as much room as I could, for any new information to come to light.

Amber posing with her immunization card for the Moderna vaccine

And here we are, at 1:10pm today, greeted by “Immunization Clinic Enter Here” signs, caution tape, and arrows on the floor guiding us to the first of three check in points. Signs that remind us “Let’s Stay Together!” and “I did it for the ones I love” and encourage us forward. Friendly smiles, hidden behind masks and shields and lots of information shared, but none of this dulled the weird sci-fi moment I was experiencing, bringing heaviness to my chest, wondering if this was the beginning of a story I didn’t want to be a part of. If there is going to be a zombie apocalypse, I want to be one of the survivors, machete in hand. Deep breaths, reminding myself that we’re not in a story.

Life is happening right now and I can’t skip ahead to read the last page. I can only make a decision based on the information I have. Knowing that the feeling I had was not a gut feeling telling me this was wrong, but fear. I was afraid and that was it. Fear was the biggest reason I had for not getting my vaccination. And remembering how afraid I was one year ago, when I didn’t know if my community would blow up with Covid-19. When I didn’t know if my family would get sick, suddenly the balance was tipped. The fear of this vaccination was less than those first days of the pandemic. While there is still uncertainty, the Moderna vaccine offers us a light at the end of the tunnel. A light we all need to properly see what the future holds for us. And so I offered my arm to the nurse, looked away, and hoped for the best.

To be continued. My second dose of the Moderna vaccine is scheduled for April 24th.

Photos: main, Alana on Pexels; all the rest are Amber’s own

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