Would you voluntarily receive the COVID vaccine as it is made available for students? I would.
Many nations have reacted in different and interesting ways in light of the pandemic, its preventative measures and most recently anticipated vaccine. Israel, for example, has already distributed the vaccine to its citizens, with 3.17 million of its 9.2 million citizens getting vaccinated. However, in the western hemisphere, the vaccine isn’t exactly as welcomed. The Washington Post reported that three out of every 10 Americans are anti-vaxxers and believe vaccines are quite harmful and should not be mandated. And although the ratio of anti-vaxxers is considerably low, a new wave of “anti-COVID-vaxxers” has risen due to the suspiciously quick introduction of this pandemic’s cure.
As for myself, I was conflicted as to whether or not I’d volunteer to be vaccinated. Not for the reasons Americans claim, but merely because I was raised from herbal medicine-esque Haitians (using l’huille mascreti [lwil maskriti] to cure illnesses, a natural oil considered to be the ‘Liquid Gold of the Caribbean), and Jamaicans/Rastafarians (Rastafarians are part of a group of people in mostly Jamaica and other Caribbean islands who reject Western medicine, do not eat pork, shellfish and milk and believe in the pro-black religion of Rastafarianism). Both cultures forbid me to go to such measures for a cure. However, despite my culture, I attended school in Montréal ultimately leading me to be vaccinated by law thanks to the Canadian school board and much to my mother’s dismay. So, considering my contradictory existence of being a vaccinated Haitian-Rasta, the question still remains: would I volunteer to receive the COVID vaccine living the lifestyle that I live and the experiences I’ve had during this pandemic?
Putting my family’s personal beliefs aside, we are well-aware of the dangers the coronavirus presents. Over 500,000 people have died from the coronavirus in America so far, with Florida’s numbers reaching nearly 30,000 deaths. And of course, as sane and thoughtful human beings who aren’t self-centered psychopaths, my family and I do our part in preventative measures. However, America will need much more than just a couple of families following CDC guidelines to get life back to normal.
Some claim the side-effects of the vaccine include altered DNA. Other claims include becoming sterile, developing permanent health issues and disabilities, and of course, contracting the virus itself. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website debunks all these claims, beginning with the most popular claim of DNA alterations.
According to the CDC, vaccines introduce inactive or dead versions of a virus for the body’s white blood cells to learn to fight against. The side-effects of a vaccine are indeed the symptoms of the virus, however, the symptoms are minor and once the body evolves against the virus, people overcome the illness with no worries about catching that illness again in the future. The mRNA vaccine simply introduces mRNA into the body to develop proteins to better protect against the virus. Either way, neither version of the vaccines developed by several medical companies including Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer, will genetically mutate an individual’s DNA cells. Vaccines simply do not reach the nucleus of a cell, so they cannot alter the DNA that resides there. There is also no proof, nor have there ever been a case of the COVID vaccine causing women to become sterile or others becoming disabled.
My stance is pro-vaccine despite my upbringing because I for one would love for life to get back to normal circa early 2019. And to further prove the importance of following CDC guidelines, or dare I say the vaccine itself, let me introduce herd immunity. Herd immunity is when enough people in a community are immune to a disease that even the weaker percentage of the community that isn’t immune to the disease is still protected due to the unlikeliness of the disease spreading far. However, if nobody wears a mask, if nobody practices CDC guidelines, and if nobody gets vaccinated, then natural infection begins. As seen already in America, natural infection is simply the process of trial and error in a species over a long period of time. A herd can reach immunity without man-made preventative measures through merely doing nothing at all, letting the infected die, and leaving the immune/survivors to reproduce, thus creating a new generation of stronger off-spring. Like a bunch of wild animals. This cycle takes much longer than just getting everyone vaccinated.
A community cannot function correctly with half of its population unwilling to follow emergency guidelines as that community faces serious hardship. And even as a Haitian-Rasta with my own personal beliefs, I understand my position in a community that needs action from everyone including myself in order to overcome said hardships. I’d rather suffer from a fatigue or a fever for a few days with the vaccine than be a part of the problem which is that of social insubordination. Most importantly, millions have lost their lives around the world; to further insult those fallen by acting selfishly and ignorantly is not how I’d assume America would want to go down in history. But then again, this wouldn’t be the first time Americans have acted in such ways.
Rachelle Barrett is a senior majoring in political science and broadcast journalism.