I’m a Christian, conservative, millennial, toddler mom and I have a confession: getting a COVID-19 vaccine seemed like a real-world science experiment I had no desire to be a part of. So how did I end up getting the shot? Humor me and keep reading.
As a conservative, I want to do my own research and have the freedom to make my own decisions. I don’t settle for what appears in my social media feed, the news app on my phone, or the news on TV. Instead, I want to read the research, hear from industry experts, and track results. You might say I’m relentless when it comes to the pursuit of truth.
As a Christian, I value prayer as a part of my decision-making process. I’m called to love my neighbor as myself, and to “look not only to my interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4). But my concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccine were focused on long-term side effects for…me. Prayer led me to have peace about those concerns but also to shift my focus outward. This is something bigger than ourselves.
I’m not a doctor or epidemiologist; and we all know how frustrating it is when someone thinks they know it all about our area of expertise. So, I searched for individuals who have education and experience in infectious disease and vaccines. My favorite is Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases and an expert on vaccines, immunology, and virology. He has a list of notable accomplishments, but what he and I have in common is the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). He works there, and my daughter is under care there for a rare health condition. As if his list of expertise wasn’t convincing enough, working for the well-known hospital that I credit with my daughter’s wellbeing sealed the deal.
In a video on CHOP’s website, Dr. Offit acknowledges rare but real side effects to all vaccines. He also reveals a powerful fact: there has not been a serious side effect in vaccine history that hasn’t occurred within six weeks of getting a dose. Even the long-term side effects are discovered in that window of time. (chop.edu/COVIDVaccineEffectsVideo)
Over 26 weeks have passed; over 154 million people are fully vaccinated. There was no massive death toll (and no zombie apocalypse). Yes, there were rare incidents of blood clots and myocarditis (heart inflammation). Both are risks that need to be considered, but they are not common – both examples of the “rare but real” side effects Dr. Offit mentioned.
Unfortunately, cases, hospitalizations and deaths among the unvaccinated haven’t improved much (if at all). (Google: “COVID rates adjusted for vaccinated.”) Think about it – if we’ve vaccinated roughly half the country, there are approximately 50% fewer people for the virus to infect. The vaccine isn’t 100% effective, but breakthrough cases are rare. In addition to having fewer hosts, the Delta variant is more contagious and may also cause more severe disease. This is really bad news for the unvaccinated – including our children.
When compared to adults, children have less serious disease. However, tens of thousands have been hospitalized, and studies have found up to 42% have long COVID. There are also over 3,700 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) – a severe condition in which the heart, gastrointestinal tract, and/or other organs become inflamed and dysfunction.
Children with chronic conditions are at a higher risk for a severe case of COVID-19, but MIS-C often occurs in healthy children – children who never had symptoms of COVID-19 but weeks later have sudden, serious symptoms that land them in an emergency room. When they get an antibody test, parents discover their child had been infected with COVID-19, unbeknownst to them – and the immune system went into overdrive, causing organ dysfunction.
Experts agree there is no way to know which children will become seriously ill and which will be spared. Thankfully, vaccines reduce transmission, so we can help protect them until a safe and effective vaccine is available to them.
As a conservative, I believe the choice to get a vaccination should be yours. As a Christian, I believe we need to have compassion for people and start thinking beyond ourselves. As a mom, I believe it’s my job to be an advocate for my two-year-old daughter. I’m not a doctor. I’m just a community member who is relentless in the pursuit of truth – and passionate about being my brother’s keeper.
It all comes down to this: if you had the chance to reduce the risk of something terrible happening to your child, your spouse, your parents, your neighbor – would you do it? I did.
Elizabeth Greenaway is a Christian, conservative, millennial mom. She’s also a public relations and marketing consultant and social media instructor in Williamsport, PA.
Publish date: 7/3/21