6 Great Reasons to Get the COVID-19 Shot
Here’s a look at some of the good things that will happen once you’re vaccinated
As soon as Lisa Figueroa got her COVID-19 vaccine, she noticed some emotional benefits. “I felt a camaraderie with the other folks at the place where I got my shot — both the people getting the vaccinations and those giving them,” says Figueroa, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist. “Community is really important to me. It felt good to know we were all there to do what we could to fight this virus together and to care for and protect each other.”
Figueroa’s experience is common: Many vaccine recipients say they felt a palpable sense of relief after getting the shot. And as Arkansas’s phased rollout of the vaccine continues, your turn may be already here or coming up next. Here are six top reasons to get your covid-19 vaccine.
1. You’ll Protect Yourself From COVID-19
Seven to ten days after your second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, your chance of getting COVID-19 plummets to less than 6%. (At press time, the novel coronavirus has infected at least 25.3 million Americans and killed nearly 490,000.) Even if you’ve had COVID-19 in the past, it’s recommended that you get the shot. While scientists believe the vaccines will protect you from the newer, more contagious strains that are starting to spread around the country, the vaccines’ overall effectiveness against these newer strains may be slightly lower.
2. You’ll Free Up Hospital Resources
Across the country, COVID-19 has left hospitals struggling with shortages of beds and staff. By getting vaccinated, you can help ease the burden on our health care system. In a press release about the Moderna clinical trials, Lindsay Baden, M.D., an infectious disease expert with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, notes, “the data suggest protection from severe illness, indicating that the vaccine could have an impact on preventing hospitalizations and deaths.” Data from the Pfizer vaccine study indicated this, too.
The resources you free up will benefit not only people with COVID-19 but all hospital patients. People who are about to give birth, were involved in a car accident, or are experiencing a life-threatening health event, like a heart attack, will be more likely to receive the care they need.
3. You’ll Contribute to Herd Immunity
With any kind of immunization, we protect not only ourselves but also the other people in our circle of life. A virus can’t spread without a host, and as more people get vaccinated, the pool of potential hosts shrinks. When enough people develop immunity (via vaccination or by having caught and recovered from a virus), the virus essentially disappears. That tipping point is known as community (or herd) immunity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many childhood diseases are now nearly eradicated in the U.S. due to vaccination campaigns. Polio, for example, disabled more than 35,000 people a year in the late 1940s, and parents were afraid to let their kids go outside for fear they’d catch the virus. But thanks to vaccination, not a single case of polio has originated on U.S. soil since 1979. This also serves as a reminder that today’s vaccinations can protect future generations.
4. You’ll Get a Mental Health Boost
The pandemic — as well as the loneliness, fear, and anxiety associated with shutdowns and social isolation — has wreaked havoc on Americans’ mental well-being. In fact, reports of anxiety and depression were up 30% in 2020.
As a therapist, Figueroa can empathize with this blow to the average American’s psyche. The good news is that getting vaccinated can help give you a lift. “There are so many potential benefits from a mental health standpoint,” she says. “Reduction in anxiety and worry about the virus and illness. A sense of empowerment [because] this is something concrete we can do to protect ourselves and others. Hope for the future and a return to some kind of normal.”
Getting vaccinated can also make it easier for people with preexisting mental health conditions — as well as those with new or worsening symptoms — to begin or return to in-person therapy.
5. You’ll Inspire Others to Get Vaccinated, Too
In a survey of 12,648 U.S. adults published in early December, 39% of people said they probably or definitely wouldn’t get a COVID-19 vaccine when it became available. But about half of those people also said they’d reconsider once they saw how the process went for other people.
That's why Figueroa was happy to be among the first Americans to receive the shots under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization. “If I can help others to feel more comfortable with the vaccine while protecting myself, that’s the best kind of win-win,” she says. And you sharing your story of getting the shot might be the very thing that convinces a friend or loved one to do the same.
6. You’ll Be Following Your Doctor’s Advice
It’s one thing when an expert on TV tells you to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But when your own doctor advises you to get it, that seals the deal. After all, nobody knows as much about your health as the provider who’s known you—and has been caring for you—for years. In a 2018 survey, 73 percent of people worldwide said they trust a doctor or nurse more than any other source of health advice—including friends, relatives, religious leaders, or celebrities.
“Way back last summer, when the vaccine trials were going on, lots of my patients told me they were hesitant about getting the shot when it came out,” says Kathryn Boling, M.D., a family physician with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. “So I volunteered to take part in a study so that I could reassure them. I could tell them about any side effects I might have, and if something terrible had happened to me, I would have told them about that, too.”
And when the vaccines were ready and it was time for her patients to roll up their sleeves, they put their faith in Dr. Boling’s advice. “They trust me to be honest with them—and that trust helped them make the decision to get vaccinated themselves. They knew that I had their well-being at heart. So if you trust your doctor, get the shot when they tell you to.”
The information in this story is accurate as of press time and posting. To limit the spread of the coronavirus, it’s important to continue practicing social distancing (keeping at least 6 feet away from people outside your household) and washing your hands frequently. You should also be appropriately masked per CDC guidelines. Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, we encourage readers to follow the news and recommendations for their own communities by using the resources from the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department.