I’ve a confession: in late 2020, when the primary COVID-19 vaccines had been accepted by the FDA, I used to be hesitant to get one myself. Regardless of working in public well being and believing strongly in vaccines to maintain our group wholesome, I used to be anxious about placing one thing in my physique that appeared so new. I believed: “What if the vaccine is harmful?” “What about long-term unwanted side effects?”
I’m a part of the LGBTQ+ group. Our historical past might assist clarify why I hesitated.
Are LGBTQ+ individuals extra hesitant to get the vaccine?
In March a New York Occasions article reported that LGBTQ+ individuals are extra hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. A research study from the Human Rights Marketing campaign reported blended findings: whereas LGBTQ+ individuals general usually tend to get vaccinated, sure subgroups, similar to LGBTQ+ individuals of shade and bisexual girls, are much less more likely to get vaccinated.
LGBTQ+ individuals have good cause to be hesitant about vaccines. Traditionally, this inhabitants has skilled — and continues to expertise — discrimination in a number of settings, together with in healthcare. On the identical time, this inhabitants is extra weak to COVID-19 (see this study and an earlier blog post I wrote). LGBTQ+ people who find themselves additionally individuals of shade could also be much more hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, due to trauma and oppressions primarily based on multiple intersecting marginalized identities that set the stage for distrust in healthcare and medical analysis. We are able to embrace racism, transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia amongst such oppressions.
Weighing the dangers and advantages of the COVID-19 vaccine
Once I was making an attempt to determine whether or not to get the vaccine, I started studying in regards to the vaccine from trusted sources just like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I additionally talked to individuals I do know and belief, like shut pals, relations, and doctor colleagues. I requested them: “Will you get the vaccine when it’s supplied to you?” All of them gave me a powerful “sure!” Most shared this rationale: whereas we nonetheless don’t learn about long-term unwanted side effects, this vaccine is just like different vaccines which have been round for some time, and the advantages of getting vaccinated far outweigh the dangers of getting critically ailing and even dying from COVID-19.
When the vaccine was supplied to me earlier this yr, I booked my appointment instantly, with out hesitation, and I haven’t appeared again. As quickly as I obtained the primary shot, and definitely after I was fully vaccinated two weeks after my second shot, I felt a profound sense of reduction. I additionally felt empowered about taking an essential step towards retaining myself, my household, and my group protected from COVID-19. I now really feel safer and freer in my every day life. I am going into shops (sporting a masks) with out feeling anxious, and I’ve been in a position to go to in-person with different totally vaccinated individuals, like my mother, with out masks.
In case you are struggling to determine whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, this decision-making grid could also be useful (observe: auto-download). The grid walks you thru the advantages and short-term and long-term dangers of not getting the vaccine in comparison with getting the presently accessible vaccines.
Why the vaccine is essential for LGBTQ+ communities
Quite a few “pandemics” have already worn out massive numbers of the LGBTQ+ group: HIV/AIDS, violence, suicide. As well as, the COVID-19 pandemic has already disproportionately harmed LGBTQ+ individuals (see this study and this report). LGBTQ+ seniors and people of color are at biggest threat for severe, presumably life-threatening sickness from COVID-19. If every of us takes steps to get vaccinated, we are able to stop extra deaths and unfavorable well being outcomes in our communities.
How are you going to empower your self to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Educate yourself on what COVID-19 vaccines are, how they work, and why they’re protected.
- Speak to trusted specialists and folks in your life about your fears.
- Right now, everybody within the US who’s age 16 or older is eligible for the vaccine, so you’ll be able to make an appointment where you live to get vaccinated.
- Extra data on COVID-19 and vaccines:
- Ways to avoid COVID-19 vaccine scams
- What you can do after you are vaccinated