Written by Alex Cameron
(3 min read)
A recent conversation with my father, about his friends contracting polio until a vaccine was created, led me to consider the various vaccinations I have received. A tetanus shot as a young man, flu shots while working for the health authority and even vaccinations for travel. Many of these vaccines have all but eradicated many deadly afflictions and allowed humans to thrive. However, there are many different beliefs around vaccines as well.The CDC has answered questions such as, can receiving a COVID-19 vaccine cause you to be magnetic? (No) Is it safe for me to get a COVID -19 vaccine if I wish to have a baby one day? (Yes) Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA? (No).
While it may be humourous to read some of the conspiracy theories, it is important to also understand that what often drives such conspiratorial ideas is fear. We can all empathize with having felt fear before in our lives. In fact, one of the main contributing factors to my decision to vaccinate myself was the fear that I could become infected and spread COVID to someone unknowingly that has a compromised immune system and the potentially fatal consequences.
One of the beautiful things about this planet is that no two peoples’ experiences are the same. This can create challenges as beliefs and values may collide or misalign with others that we care for or love. For example, vaccine hesitancy has been building in parts of the world for varying reasons and one model to explain it is the 3 C’s – Complacency, Convenience, and Confidence. These reasons may be directly affecting people choosing to get vaccinated or not and may occur within your own circle. Johns Hopkins Medicine released this ’12 Things You Need to Know’ about vaccine hesitancy – https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/covid19-vaccine-hesitancy-12-things-you-need-to-know
One effective way to avoid conflict is to approach others with curiosity as opposed to judgement. When we approach someone with curiosity, we are seeking to connect and understand them, not simply trying to find information to use against them. For example, if you were to see someone not wearing a mask and it was mandated, what if you asked them, ‘I noticed you are not wearing a mask and that it is mandated for this area, I am curious about your choice to not wear one?’ This approach then invites conversation as opposed to immediate defensiveness and conflict. There may be a number of reasons why, but until we ask and receive that direct answer, we will never know for sure. The same is true about vaccinating for COVID-19.
There may also be personal reasons for individuals to not get vaccinated at all which may include medical reasons, personal beliefs, or simply anxiety about getting vaccinated without enough information to feel comfortable. There is data to support that receiving two vaccinations will return our lives closer to normalcy before the pandemic struck, but it is also important to respect that people all have the right to choose what is in their best interest and to remind ourselves that people are not making choices to actively harm others. The challenge is to focus on what you can do FOR you and that is right for you and those in your life, while balancing that with the information that is delivered on a regular basis. Your healthcare provider is a great place to start with any questions about vaccinating yourself and any associated risks. Together, we can beat this!
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About Alex Cameron
Alexander Cameron is a psychotherapist with a private practice based in Ontario and Alberta. He specializes in mental health and has held several supervisory roles in both clinical and community settings. Alexander has also done extensive work around men’s mental health with agencies such as Movember Canada and Next Gen Men and can be found at alexandercameron.ca