By: Francis Darr, MD, Pediatrician Pediatric Department Chair for UP Health System – Marquette
For most of us, this past holiday season was unlike any other we have experienced. Instead of the typical hustle and bustle of holiday parties, family gatherings, and being surrounded by those we love – this year was just different. I know for me personally, I missed being able to socialize with friends and see my siblings.
While changing traditions this year was hard, I know there are people here in our community who are facing much greater difficulties because of how COVID-19 has impacted their lives. I see these challenges every single day in my role on the frontlines of fighting this pandemic as a Pediatrician.
That’s why I’m excited and proud to be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. I know many people have questions or concerns about the vaccine. Because the vaccine was developed very quickly, it is natural to have some hesitance about it. However, after talking to other clinicians I know and trust, reviewing the facts, and being tired of missing so much in 2020, I feel very confident in my decision to get vaccinated.
COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same rigorous process to gain authorization that all vaccines available in the United States have gone through – no steps were skipped, and no corners were cut. Researchers anticipate that the vaccine will be approximately 95% effective. This is significantly higher than other common (and important) vaccines like the flu vaccine, which is typically between 40-60% effective.
You’ve probably heard about the potential side effects, which can include pain at the injection site and sometimes headaches, muscle pain, body aches, fatigue, or fever. I personally experienced only some pain and tenderness at the injection site, which was mild and went away within 12 hours. I can tell you from personal experience serving patients and families every day during this crisis that these potential side effects pale in comparison to the challenges that come with a serious case of COVID-19.
For me, I chose to get the vaccine because I have seen the tremendous devastation this pandemic has caused. The widespread acceptance of the vaccine is the way out of the global health crisis. It is the way to get back to a life filled with the joys of friendship and socialization. It is the way to reverse the economic effects of the pandemic. Finally, it is the way each of us can contribute to the fight to save lives threatened by this dangerous virus.
With the COVID-19 vaccine, I believe we are on the right path toward reaching an end to the pandemic and returning to normal life – but it is going to take all of us doing our part by choosing to get vaccinated, continuing to wear masks, maintaining social distancing and practicing hand hygiene until the vaccination is widely administered. I want to encourage every member of our community to step up and be a vaccine hero once it is available to you. Do it for your family, your friends, yourself – and all of us at UP Health System.
While there is much that we all missed last year because of the pandemic, there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this community, and I will continue to do my part to help ensure that brighter days are ahead in 2021.