Why I, a 17-year-old, got vaccinated as soon as possible

Anyone 16 years or older in the state of Fla. has been able to get a COVID-19 vaccine since April 5. Now, anyone 12 and up, meaning every student at Jupiter High School, is eligible for an inoculation. However, just because it is available does not mean everyone, or even the majority, will book an appointment.

On April 30, I received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. At the time, I only knew three other teenagers who had received their second vaccination. I got my shot, which was quick and painless, and went to bed. The next day I had a sore arm and some grogginess. By the end of the day, my grogginess was gone.

We are finally beginning to approach normalcy. Restrictions are being relaxed; the South Florida Fair is back, and multiple colleges, stores, and even states themselves such as our own are foregoing their mask mandates. Although we are making great progress, we did not eradicate the virus. Foregoing these precautions will highly increase the chance of coming in contact with COVID-19. 

To me, the choice is between getting vaccinated or eventually getting an unprotected COVID infection. I’m betting on the vaccine.

COVID-19 is a constantly evolving virus with relatively unknown origins that has killed over three million worldwide and left countless others irreparably changed. “Long Haulers” can experience long-term breathing issues, kidney damage, heart inflammation, neurological issues, and much more according to John Hopkins University. 

In contrast, the world’s top scientists created and actively support The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, which has yet to have any confirmed deaths nor confirmed long-term side effects. A fully vaccinated person is 90% less likely to get infected with COVID, 94-95% less likely to develop moderate symptoms, and nearly 100% less likely to end up with severe symptoms or hospitalization.

While a common reason for avoiding the vaccine is that we do not yet know the long-term effects, according to muhealth.org, “History tells us that severe side effects are extremely rare, and if they do occur, they usually happen within the first two months.” We saw this with the Johnson & Johnson shot, which was temporarily paused due to severe side effects in one out of one million. On the other hand, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been going strong for months without any serious side effects.

There are many rumors about the vaccines, one of them being the fear of infertility, which has been commonly debunked but is still commonly feared. Meanwhile, while many avoid the shot due to fear of a rumor, recent studies suggest men may actually face infertility after a severe COVID infection

If I were to cover every unsubstantiated rumor about the vaccine in this article, it would be unreasonably long. The same can be said if I were to cover every known consequence of an unprotected COVID-19 infection. Yes, both the virus and the vaccine are still being studied, but the risk of COVID-19 is light-years greater than the risk of the vaccine.

The choice is between inaction and action. Every day we risk being infected with COVID-19, spreading it to others, and facing the uncertainty of its long-term effects. The vaccine protects you and your family from those long-term effects.

To me, the choice is clear; however, I don’t expect anyone opposed to getting the vaccine to read this article and run to their local CVS begging for a shot. Some of you reading may even have already been infected with COVID-19 or may have a medical reason to avoid the vaccine! 

All I hope is for those who read even just half of this article to compare the risks of COVID-19 to that of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and make an informed decision. 

Visit floridavaccine.info for more information on how to make an appointment for a COVID vaccine. 

For information about the safety and the benefits of the vaccines, visit the CDC’s website.