I’ve a confession: in late 2020, when the primary COVID-19 vaccines have been authorised by the FDA, I used to be hesitant to get one myself. Regardless of working in public well being and believing strongly in vaccines to maintain our group wholesome, I used to be anxious about placing one thing in my physique that appeared so new. I assumed: “What if the vaccine is harmful?” “What about long-term unwanted side effects?”

I’m a part of the LGBTQ+ group. Our historical past could assist clarify why I hesitated.

Are LGBTQ+ individuals extra hesitant to get the vaccine?

In March a New York Instances article reported that LGBTQ+ persons are extra hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. A research study from the Human Rights Marketing campaign reported blended findings: whereas LGBTQ+ individuals general usually tend to get vaccinated, sure subgroups, corresponding to LGBTQ+ individuals of coloration and bisexual girls, are much less prone to get vaccinated.

LGBTQ+ individuals have good cause to be hesitant about vaccines. Traditionally, this inhabitants has skilled — and continues to expertise — discrimination in a number of settings, together with in healthcare. On the identical time, this inhabitants is extra weak to COVID-19 (see this study and an earlier blog post I wrote). LGBTQ+ people who find themselves additionally individuals of coloration could also be much more hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, due to trauma and oppressions primarily based on multiple intersecting marginalized identities that set the stage for distrust in healthcare and medical analysis. We will embody racism, transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia amongst such oppressions.

Weighing the dangers and advantages of the COVID-19 vaccine

Once I was attempting to determine whether or not to get the vaccine, I started studying in regards to the vaccine from trusted sources just like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I additionally talked to individuals I do know and belief, like shut pals, members of the family, and doctor colleagues. I requested them: “Will you get the vaccine when it’s supplied to you?” All of them gave me a convincing “sure!” Most shared this rationale: whereas we nonetheless don’t find out about long-term unwanted side effects, this vaccine is much like different vaccines which have been round for some time, and the advantages of getting vaccinated far outweigh the dangers of getting critically unwell and even dying from COVID-19.

When the vaccine was supplied to me earlier this yr, I booked my appointment instantly, with out hesitation, and I haven’t seemed again. As quickly as I acquired the primary shot, and definitely after I was fully vaccinated two weeks after my second shot, I felt a profound sense of reduction. I additionally felt empowered about taking an essential step towards preserving myself, my household, and my group protected from COVID-19. I now really feel safer and freer in my every day life. I am going into shops (sporting a masks) with out feeling anxious, and I’ve been in a position to go to in-person with different absolutely vaccinated individuals, like my mother, with out masks.

If you’re struggling to determine whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, this decision-making grid could also be useful (observe: auto-download). The grid walks you thru the advantages and short-term and long-term dangers of not getting the vaccine in comparison with getting the presently out there vaccines.

Why the vaccine is essential for LGBTQ+ communities

Quite a few “pandemics” have already worn out giant numbers of the LGBTQ+ group: HIV/AIDS, violence, suicide. As well as, the COVID-19 pandemic has already disproportionately harmed LGBTQ+ individuals (see this study and this report). LGBTQ+ seniors and people of color are at best danger for critical, probably life-threatening sickness from COVID-19. If every of us takes steps to get vaccinated, we will stop extra deaths and adverse well being outcomes in our communities.

How are you going to empower your self to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • Educate yourself on what COVID-19 vaccines are, how they work, and why they’re protected.
  • Discuss to trusted specialists and folks in your life about your fears.
  • Presently, everybody within the US who’s age 16 or older is eligible for the vaccine, so you’ll be able to make an appointment where you live to get vaccinated.

Further sources

The publish COVID-19 vaccines and the LGBTQ+ community appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

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