I have felt a little guilty since receiving my Pfizer vaccine. I am 71 and a two-year cancer survivor.
As someone at increased risk of severe complications from COVID-19, I was eligible for the vaccine, but my number hadn’t been assigned.
I didn’t want to talk about getting my vaccine early, as I didn’t want anyone to have vaccine envy or to be mad at me.
That was until I read a notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how important it was for vaccine recipients to share their personal stories and reasons for getting vaccinated within their circles of influence.
It was a coincidence, really. My wife was delivering a remembrance quilt to a friend who recently lost her husband to prostate cancer, and the friend received a call to get the vaccine. She lives close to Santa Fe High School, one of the local vaccination sites. She was told they needed volunteers, as there were extra doses available that would go to waste if they were not used that day.
My wife called me, my 92-year-old mother, one of my sisters and her husband, and a friend with Type 1 diabetes.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines now available have shown an efficacy of 95 percent after two doses, and most recipients have experienced only mild side effects such as, chills, headaches and achy bodies.
Still, many people are reluctant to be vaccinated, including some health care providers.
According to a recent article in the Texas Tribune, over 20 percent of home health workers caring for the elderly and people with disabilities were resistant or unwilling to be vaccinated.
In a recent edition of The New Mexican, there were two letters to the editor opposing vaccine mandates for employment or travel. Another letter writer questioned the number of COVID-19-related deaths and suggested that it was faulty statistics.
The cause of death is determined by a physician, medical examiner or coroner using medical records, laboratory tests or an autopsy report and recorded on a death certificate. Each state reports the deaths for a particular cause from a recorded death certificate.
We have lost two young extended family members and a cherished aunt of my son’s fiancée to COVID-19. The country has lost over 500,000 individuals to the illness.
We need more people to get vaccinated. Researchers have found one way to do this is to provide patients with a vaccination appointment and a choice to reschedule or cancel the appointment. The practice increased the vaccination rate.
In another interesting experiment, parents in Washington state were trained to provide medical information to other parents about the importance of getting their children vaccinated to protect them against measles, whooping cough and other preventable diseases.
The parent educators were not hired to change minds, but to provide accurate medical information about why the vaccines were necessary.
Currently, 83 percent of U.S. parents vaccinate their children within the recommended schedule. Still, we have measles outbreaks in some communities because parents refuse to follow vaccination guidelines.
More work needs to be done.
Andy Winnegar has spent his career in rehabilitation and is based in Santa Fe as a training associate for the Southwest ADA Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.