If You’re Feeling Reluctant About the COVID-19 Vaccines, Read This

So, to help unpack the answers to these questions and explore these very natural feelings, I spoke to two people who are experts in this realm in their own way. First, I chatted with Tara Smith, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the Kent State University College of Public Health and frequent SELF contributor. Dr. Smith walked me through so much of the nitty-gritty science here in a really helpful, easy-to-understand way. She explained how the different COVID-19 vaccines offer protection, debunked some persistent vaccine myths, explained why side effects can happen (or not), and emphasized that actually worrisome side effects are reassuringly rare. She also gave some useful insight into her thoughts on how the vaccination rollout has gone so far and how it can get better—along with how to navigate it yourself.Then I called up Sarah Jacoby, SELF’s associate news director. Sarah has been keeping an extremely close eye on the vaccine development and rollout process from the start, making sure we cover what people need to know in a way that’s accurate and empathetic. When we spoke, she was honest about her initial journalistic instinct to be skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccines really being as good as they seemed, and how her reporting helped her realize that these vaccines are indeed worth celebrating. She also opened up about her own vaccination process, including the anxiety she felt about potential side effects, and how some really lovely vaccine administrators helped her through it. After talking to Sarah and Dr. Smith, I’m feeling even more grateful that we have these vaccines. But I’m also still concerned about a few key things, like the inequitable rollout that makes it harder for communities of color to access the vaccine. I continue to worry about some states relaxing restrictions too soon, especially in light of coronavirus variants that seem to be increasingly circulating. Sarah summed it up well when she said, “I just don’t want people to throw caution completely to the wind, because we know that even with these really effective vaccines, it’s going to be a gradual process to contain the pandemic.”Show NotesTara Smith, Ph.D., is a professor of epidemiology at the Kent State University College of Public Health. She obtained her Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Toledo and her B.S. in biology from Yale University. Dr. Smith’s research focuses on zoonotic infections (infections which are transferred between animals and humans), and she has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on topics in infectious disease epidemiology. You can follow her on Twitter @aetiology and read her work for SELF here. Sarah Jacoby is the associate news director at SELF. She’s an experienced health and science journalist who is particularly interested in the science of skin care, sexual and reproductive health, drugs and drug policy, and mental health. Sarah is a graduate of NYU’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program and has a background in psychology and neuroscience. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram and read her work for SELF here.Zahra mentions a March 2021 survey about there being little difference in vaccine hesitancy between Black and white Americans. You can find more information on that here.You Might Also LikeIf you’re interested in learning more about any of these topics, here are some articles from SELF you might enjoy:On COVID-19 vaccines:Here’s How to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine9 Ways to Prepare for Your COVID-19 AppointmentWhat Can You Do After Your COVID-19 Vaccine? The CDC Just Released New Guidelines.COVID-19 Vaccines Are Safe for Pregnant and Breastfeeding People, According to New StudyDoes It Matter Which COVID-19 Vaccine You Get?9 Major Questions About mRNA Coronavirus Vaccines, AnsweredHow Much Do You Need To Worry About Coronavirus Variants?7 Small Things You Can Do To Help Protect Yourself From Coronavirus VariantsWhy States Reopening Too Soon Is Still Extremely DangerousFinally, here’s all of SELF’s coronavirus coverage to date.

So, to help unpack the answers to these questions and explore these very natural feelings, I spoke to two people who are experts in this realm in their own way. First, I chatted with Tara Smith, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the Kent State University College of Public Health and frequent SELF contributor. Dr. Smith walked me through so much of the nitty-gritty science here in a really helpful, easy-to-understand way. She explained how the different COVID-19 vaccines offer protection, debunked some persistent vaccine myths, explained why side effects can happen (or not), and emphasized that actually worrisome side effects are reassuringly rare. She also gave some useful insight into her thoughts on how the vaccination rollout has gone so far and how it can get better—along with how to navigate it yourself.

Then I called up Sarah Jacoby, SELF’s associate news director. Sarah has been keeping an extremely close eye on the vaccine development and rollout process from the start, making sure we cover what people need to know in a way that’s accurate and empathetic. When we spoke, she was honest about her initial journalistic instinct to be skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccines really being as good as they seemed, and how her reporting helped her realize that these vaccines are indeed worth celebrating. She also opened up about her own vaccination process, including the anxiety she felt about potential side effects, and how some really lovely vaccine administrators helped her through it. 

After talking to Sarah and Dr. Smith, I’m feeling even more grateful that we have these vaccines. But I’m also still concerned about a few key things, like the inequitable rollout that makes it harder for communities of color to access the vaccine. I continue to worry about some states relaxing restrictions too soon, especially in light of coronavirus variants that seem to be increasingly circulating. Sarah summed it up well when she said, “I just don’t want people to throw caution completely to the wind, because we know that even with these really effective vaccines, it’s going to be a gradual process to contain the pandemic.”

Show Notes

Tara Smith, Ph.D., is a professor of epidemiology at the Kent State University College of Public Health. She obtained her Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Toledo and her B.S. in biology from Yale University. Dr. Smith’s research focuses on zoonotic infections (infections which are transferred between animals and humans), and she has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on topics in infectious disease epidemiology. You can follow her on Twitter @aetiology and read her work for SELF here

Sarah Jacoby is the associate news director at SELF. She’s an experienced health and science journalist who is particularly interested in the science of skin care, sexual and reproductive health, drugs and drug policy, and mental health. Sarah is a graduate of NYU’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program and has a background in psychology and neuroscience. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram and read her work for SELF here.

Zahra mentions a March 2021 survey about there being little difference in vaccine hesitancy between Black and white Americans. You can find more information on that here.

You Might Also Like

If you’re interested in learning more about any of these topics, here are some articles from SELF you might enjoy:

On COVID-19 vaccines:

Here’s How to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
9 Ways to Prepare for Your COVID-19 Appointment
What Can You Do After Your COVID-19 Vaccine? The CDC Just Released New Guidelines.
COVID-19 Vaccines Are Safe for Pregnant and Breastfeeding People, According to New Study
Does It Matter Which COVID-19 Vaccine You Get?
9 Major Questions About mRNA Coronavirus Vaccines, Answered
How Much Do You Need To Worry About Coronavirus Variants?
7 Small Things You Can Do To Help Protect Yourself From Coronavirus Variants
Why States Reopening Too Soon Is Still Extremely Dangerous
Finally, here’s all of SELF’s coronavirus coverage to date.

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