Here we are again, back in lockdown with mixed emotions. From others, there seems to be a pronounced sense of frustration and anger. People are getting increasingly cranky about mixed messages and lack of clarity around guidelines and being forced to close their business at the drop of a hat (understandably). Passing conversations with people around our community has taught me that majority are worried about getting the COVID vaccination. They have questions but are too afraid to ask them for fear of being shut down and labelled as an anti-vaxxer or feel forced and pressured by their doctors to get the vaccine.
I am well aware of how they are feeling as I’m in the same boat. Numerous conversations with my diabetes team and friends in the health industry have all led to my decision to wait as long as possible before getting the COVID vaccination. This doesn’t mean that I am an anti-vaxxer, which I have already been accused of. I am very well aware of the benefits of vaccination and am grateful for them. Especially as I rely on herd immunity for a few things like chicken pox as it turns out that I am one of the small percentage of people where its vaccine is effectively useless.
I’m grateful that my diabetes team have been willing to have an open discussion with me on the risk and benefits of getting vaccinated against COVID. They listened to my concerns and situation, provided me with what information they know and supported my decision. I only had one GP who insisted I get vaccinated simply because it was “the right thing to do” without considering my medical situation.
In research, we teach our students the importance of obtaining informed consent from participants before they take part in a study as part of ethical practice. I am lucky that we get to exercise that here in Australia, where you even need to sign a consent form to feed your baby formula in hospital because your breastmilk is taking its time to arrive. Before people are able to make an informed decision though, unbiased, evidenced based information and opportunities to ask questions should be provided.
At the moment access to safe spaces to have such discussions is limited to your healthcare teams. Information is only coming through social media, often through media companies where bias is rife. Social media is also a cesspool for peer pressure; with people blame and shame are inflicted upon those who dare speak out against the norm. It makes me feel guilty for having a medical reason to postpone getting vaccinated against COVID.
It’s not a surprise that I am feeling so exhausted and burnt out from social media. There’s little room to hide from such negative sentiments when it’s all everyone is talking about. I’m trying to focus on things I can control and minimising my time on social media or refocusing my content stream to things that are helpful or positive. But it’s tough and can be isolating. So if you’re in a similar situation, I hear you. You are not alone. And if you’ve got your COVID shot – awesome, now please be kind.