Two-hundred-thousand people are ahead of me in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine in my county. It would have been fewer, but I delayed signing up for a few weeks because I felt guilty about my eligibility. Why should I, a relatively healthy young person, get the vaccine before, say, an elderly grandmother just because of my height-to-weight ratio? Would I be taking a vaccine away from someone more deserving? I wrestled with this moral dilemma for weeks before a friend told me something that instantly changed my mind: every person who gets a vaccine deserves to be celebrated, because it's for the public good.
The more people who are vaccinated, the safer and healthier our communities will be.
Much like wearing a mask, getting the COVID-19 vaccine helps protect you, as well as those around you. The Moderna vaccine is 94 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 infection, Pfizer is 95 percent effective, and Johnson & Johnson is 66 percent effective. All of these vaccines nearly eliminated hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. While there are still some questions about emerging variants, the general consensus is that the more people who are vaccinated, the safer and healthier our communities will be.
In my state, vaccine eligibility is currently open to healthcare workers, residents at long-term care facilities, school and child-care personnel, people 65 and older, and people under 65 with health conditions that increase their risk of severe illness. At first, I thought it was more important for people like my grandparents and my mom, who's a cancer survivor, to get the vaccine. But now, while of course I'm glad they signed up, I know it's just as important for me to get it, too. Not only will it help reduce my chances of getting COVID-19 or getting really sick from it — which in turn will allow hospitals and medical workers to care for those who need it most — but it may also prevent me from spreading the virus to someone who's at greater risk.
Instead of stressing about whether or not I'm "worthy" of getting the vaccine, I'm going to focus on encouraging everyone I know who is eligible to sign up. It doesn't matter why you qualify. Be glad that you can get the vaccine, because even those of us who are young and otherwise healthy could get really sick, develop long-term complications, or die from COVID-19. And by protecting yourself, you're also helping to curb the spread and protect the most vulnerable.
Yes, your parents or grandparents should sign up for the vaccine. But so should you! I'm done feeling guilty for registering to get a vaccine in the midst of a global pandemic. I'm tired of people judging, acting suspicious, or feeling jealous when someone else gets the vaccine before them. I'm proud of my friends and family members who have already gotten their first or second dose, both for taking that step and for coming to the conclusion that they deserved to before I realized it myself.
Whether you're eligible now or still waiting to add your name to the wait list, getting vaccinated is a selfless act that will help your community, the nation, and the world. Personally, I can't wait to get my shot and be one step closer to helping end this pandemic for good.