I got “the” shot in early 2021. I have never in my life been excited about an inoculation until now. When my children were young, shots equated to sleepless nights and fever spikes. I distinctly remember trying to get the days-old dirty band-aids off of their teeny-tiny arms in a sudsy tub. Sometimes I tried the slow and steady method; other times it was a quick rip accompanied by excessive howling that scared our dog into hiding.
This COVID-19 shot was different. It essentially meant a taste of freedom to me. Perhaps I could physically get closer to my aging parents instead of standing more than 10 feet away on their driveway. Maybe I would truly enjoy an outdoor game of pandemic pickleball without kicking my already germaphobic persona into overdrive. Inside I was thinking this shot would give me a reprieve from the chaos, a glimmer of hope that normalcy was within reach.
After more than a year of being on lockdown, would this shot give me a boost of courage that would make my introverted self a bit more extroverted?
Until now, I had not told my friends or colleagues that I was fortunate enough to receive the shot. Why? Mainly guilt. Here I was lucky enough to win the lottery of all lotteries by receiving an inoculation while others continue to wait. Those people who post on Facebook about their good fortune of getting the vaccine – well, that’s just not my style. I’m more the type who is ridden with Jewish guilt over getting my chance at protection. I liken it to being on the Titanic – I got to hop into a lifeboat while others were left behind to eventually sink to their demise. Yes, I’m melodramatic, but I told you already: I’m Jewish. We find drama in everything.
Living during this pandemic has become dramatic at every turn. A simple cough twists my thoughts into a dark place. I become paranoid if I can’t smell the wafting aroma of my husband’s gourmet cooking. An ache here, a pain there, and my mind goes straight to hospital beds and ventilators. My family and friends roll their eyes at me, but that’s who I am…and I just can’t help it.
By the time this article appears, I’m hopeful that anyone who wants it will have had the opportunity to receive their double dose of this door-opening vaccine which – like its inoculation predecessors – is basically a shot of pure tranquility.
B.C. (Before COVID)
Humans have benefitted from vaccines for centuries. Evidence actually exists that the Chinese had a smallpox inoculation as early as 1000 CE, but we’re most familiar with what we deem as the first vaccine – Edward Jenner’s 1796 use of cowpox material to prevent smallpox. While his method evolved during the next 200 years based upon medical and technological changes, it eventually resulted in the elimination of smallpox.
Louis Pasteur’s 1885 rabies vaccine came next; later there were antitoxins and vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, anthrax, cholera, plague, typhoid, tuberculosis, and more developed through the 1930s. Vaccine research and development grew in the middle of the 20th century with a vaccine for polio. Research and then vaccines were created to reduce common childhood diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella.
Healing our world: Founded in 2017, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) works to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging diseases. It is a global partnership among public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organizations working to enable equitable access to these vaccines for affected populations during outbreaks.
A Boost of Relief
The U.S. has very low rates of vaccine-preventable diseases, but this isn’t the case everywhere in the world. The more people who are vaccinated, the fewer opportunities a disease has to spread. That’s why, to me, getting my shot was definitely a life-changing gift.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccinations throughout your life are created to protect against many infections. When you skip vaccines, you leave yourself vulnerable to countless illnesses and possibly even death. Immunizations protect us from serious diseases and prevent the spread of those diseases to others. Thanks to vaccines, we’ve experienced the near eradication of polio and smallpox and thwarted epidemics of infectious diseases such as measles, mumps and whooping cough.
Hit me with your best shot: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and partners joined forces in 2000 to set up the Global Alliance for Vaccines and immunization, now called Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The aim was to encourage manufacturers to lower vaccine prices for the poorest countries in return for long-term, high-volume and predictable demand from those countries. Since its launch, child deaths have halved, and 13 million deaths have been prevented.
A History of Health
It’s mind-boggling to think how revolutionized medicine has transformed our world. The rabies vaccine (1885), the discovery of aspirin for pain relief (1900), insulin for diabetes (1921), penicillin to kill infectious bacteria (1928), AZT for preventing HIV/AIDS (1987), oral typhoid vaccine (1989), and the hepatitis A vaccine (1995). The list goes on and on.
For goodness sake: The Health Action Alliance helps the business community improve the health of employees, customers, and communities by restoring trust in science and strengthening public health in order to be better prepared in the future. The alliance promotes COVID-19 prevention and encourages vaccination, focusing on advancing health equity by addressing the needs of disproportionately affected communities.
Spoonful of Sugar
Homeopathy, a pseudoscientific system of alternative medicine conceived in 1796, has also sweetened the painful repercussions of common ailments. The belief is that the body can cure itself by using tiny amounts of natural substances like plants and minerals, which homeopaths believe stimulate the healing process.
Homeopathic medicine can treat various health issues including allergies and migraines, as well as minor issues like bruises and coughs. It is not recommended for life-threatening illnesses like asthma, cancer, and heart disease. Homeopaths offer numerous COVID-19 remedies for affected organs—ranging from the lungs and brain to the liver and heart-based upon the various symptoms and virus stages in different people.
Like a natural woman: The National Center for Homeopathy works to educate, promote and protect homeopathy. Its vision for the future: to create a world where homeopathy is an acceptable and widely chosen healthcare option that is accessible to all.
I’m A Believer
No matter how you cut it, I believe inoculations are life-saving bursts of peace for both the recipients and the community. I’m beyond grateful to scientists and the medical world who gave me this glorious gift of time: the time to get physically closer to my parents, the time to enjoy a sport like pickleball that I never played prior to the pandemic, and the time to truly appreciate everything in my life that I thought I had before but, in reality, I didn’t appreciate nearly enough.
If you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, do you have a sense of serenity or are you uncomfortable with the current climate? I’d love for you to share your thoughts and your experience.
Originally appeared in Lead Up For Women Magazine and featured here with Author permission.