I’ve a confession: in late 2020, when the primary COVID-19 vaccines had been accredited by the FDA, I used to be hesitant to get one myself. Regardless of working in public well being and believing strongly in vaccines to maintain our neighborhood wholesome, I used to be anxious about placing one thing in my physique that appeared so new. I assumed: “What if the vaccine is harmful?” “What about long-term unintended effects?”
I’m a part of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood. Our historical past could assist clarify why I hesitated.
Are LGBTQ+ individuals extra hesitant to get the vaccine?
In March a New York Instances article reported that LGBTQ+ persons are extra hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. A analysis research from the Human Rights Marketing campaign reported blended findings: whereas LGBTQ+ individuals total usually tend to get vaccinated, sure subgroups, akin to LGBTQ+ individuals of shade and bisexual ladies, are much less more likely to get vaccinated.
LGBTQ+ individuals have good cause to be hesitant about vaccines. Traditionally, this inhabitants has skilled — and continues to expertise — discrimination in a number of settings, together with in healthcare. On the similar time, this inhabitants is extra weak to COVID-19 (see this research and an earlier weblog put up I wrote). LGBTQ+ people who find themselves additionally individuals of shade could also be much more hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, due to trauma and oppressions based mostly on a number of intersecting marginalized identities that set the stage for distrust in healthcare and medical analysis. We will embody racism, transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia amongst such oppressions.
Weighing the dangers and advantages of the COVID-19 vaccine
After I was making an attempt to determine whether or not to get the vaccine, I started studying concerning the vaccine from trusted sources just like the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC). I additionally talked to individuals I do know and belief, like shut buddies, members of the family, and doctor colleagues. I requested them: “Will you get the vaccine when it’s provided to you?” All of them gave me a convincing “sure!” Most shared this rationale: whereas we nonetheless don’t learn about long-term unintended effects, this vaccine is just like different vaccines which were round for some time, and the advantages of getting vaccinated far outweigh the dangers of getting critically in poor health and even dying from COVID-19.
When the vaccine was provided to me earlier this yr, I booked my appointment instantly, with out hesitation, and I haven’t appeared again. As quickly as I received the primary shot, and definitely once I was totally vaccinated two weeks after my second shot, I felt a profound sense of aid. I additionally felt empowered about taking an essential step towards conserving myself, my household, and my neighborhood protected from COVID-19. I now really feel safer and freer in my every day life. I’m going into shops (carrying a masks) with out feeling anxious, and I’ve been capable of go to in-person with different totally vaccinated individuals, like my mother, with out masks.
In case you are struggling to determine whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, this decision-making grid could also be useful (be aware: auto-download). The grid walks you thru the advantages and short-term and long-term dangers of not getting the vaccine in comparison with getting the presently accessible vaccines.
Why the vaccine is essential for LGBTQ+ communities
Quite a few “pandemics” have already worn out giant numbers of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood: HIV/AIDS, violence, suicide. As well as, the COVID-19 pandemic has already disproportionately harmed LGBTQ+ individuals (see this research and this report). LGBTQ+ seniors and folks of shade are at best danger for severe, probably life-threatening sickness from COVID-19. If every of us takes steps to get vaccinated, we will forestall extra deaths and damaging well being outcomes in our communities.
How will you empower your self to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
- Educate your self on what COVID-19 vaccines are, how they work, and why they’re protected.
- Discuss to trusted specialists and folks in your life about your fears.
- Presently, everybody within the US who’s age 16 or older is eligible for the vaccine, so you may make an appointment the place you reside to get vaccinated.