By Laura Keil, Publisher/Editor

Last week I showed up to my COVID-19 vaccine appointment early and was milling around outside the community hall. The sun was shining and a few others were near their vehicles waiting to be called in. I was giddy and nervous, happy to finally get this shot that would drastically reduce the chance of severe COVID-19 symptoms and nervous for the reasons you’re usually nervous before getting poked in the arm. People chatted six feet apart, still masked. “Is that you, so-and-so?” someone would say. “Yes. How are you?” Idle time is blessed time in a small community.

On the day of my appointment and the days following, the most amazing thing happened: people kept giving me their stories about why they chose to get immunized. Several told me it was because they had a compromised immune system and lung issues. Another said it was her experience with her daughter’s cancer a few years ago. Another was because of a sick elderly parent they needed to care for.

Together these stories form a more powerful narrative than any logical argument for vaccines.

I was speaking with some friends about the proliferation of vaccine conspiracies and one person said something wise with regards to these fears: “If it’s true, it’s bad.” Anytime you read or hear something supposedly dire regarding a vaccine, you can say that aloud. Notice the fear in your body. Notice the panic. Then you can go online and search for scientific papers on that topic and see what turns up.
If it’s true, it’s bad. But is it true?

People love to share sensational things, because it gets a reaction and sets themselves up as an “authority.” It’s a psychological fact that someone sharing sensational news has something to gain out of it. So hit the pause button before becoming a sharer yourself: If it’s true, it’s bad. But is it true? Even doctors make mistakes, and statistics is not most people’s area of expertise. Research what the majority of doctors/scientists/statisticians are saying, not just one or two who may have something to gain from sharing sensational news.

The final numbers aren’t in yet for local vaccinations, but thank you to all those who stepped up and got a shot for the greater good. With time-sensitive cancer surgeries delayed due resource shortages because of COVID-19, there is much at stake, and what about the silent suffering of millions of isolated people waiting to see their loved ones? If you’re wondering what’s at stake locally, speak to someone who got a shot about why it’s important to them. You might be surprised.