I decided to get vaccinated, and this is my story of why. I want to be clear, that everyone is entitled to their opinion, their choice. This piece reflects my own thought process in making the decision.
I have empathy for our whānau who may have experienced a negative outcome because of our health system, who distrust the healthcare system and the vaccine as a result. I have empathy for those who wish to get vaccinated, but due to being immunocompromised, must place their faith in their communities in the hopes that they will protect them. I have empathy for the single parents and the overworked parents who do not have the time, or childcare or the ability to access a vaccine hub.
I have empathy for those who have a fear of needles, I am one of them. But my fear of loss, overwhelmed my fear of needles. I overcame that fear for my loved ones, for my future, and the future of Aotearoa.
I have spent years trusting the medical experts to take care of me, why would I stop now?
If any of my friends or whānau has ever been sick or hurt, my initial instinct is to keep them calm, but my second instinct is always to consider going to the doctor or the hospital. Why would I suddenly start second-guessing the health professionals who have placed my wellbeing at the core of their care?
I have spent years taking things like panadol and paracetamol without a second thought. I never questioned their ingredients, or the process involved in making these pills safe for consumption and for sale over the counter.
I have spent years caring for others, not just my whānau or friends, but the person who needs help carrying their groceries, the kid who fell over and scraped their knee and any other person who ever smiled at me. Why would I suddenly question a vaccine that was provided by health professionals that would not only help me but help my surrounding communities?
I have spent years visiting my grandparents, watching them age everyday and I know that I am not ready to lose them yet. I know that for their protection and my selfish desire to see them, I need to be vaccinated. I wouldn’t put my grandparents in a situation where I thought they could be at risk, so why would I enter their house knowing that I am the risk?
I have watched my whānau work hard to keep their communities safe – providing support through the lockdowns, I have watched them educate their communities to have faith in the vaccine, in a system that has historically mistreated them. How could I go back home to my whānau if I was not vaccinated? Why would I destroy their efforts to create a safe environment by presenting myself as a risk?
This is not to negate the anxieties that people may have about the vaccine; it’s about bringing the discussion about our reasons for or against the vaccine. Everyone is entitled to their choice but this a reflection of my journey in making the decision to vaccinate.
For me, there was no question about it. I am fully vaccinated, for myself, for my whānau, for my communities, for the person who has just walked past me on street.