Thank You to Those Roll Up Their Sleeves: Words from the (FULLY!) Vaccinated

background is a person wearing a white lab-coat and blue medical glove. They are holding a syringe in their hand. On the image is text that reads, "I want my community to be safe. Without all of us doing our part together, it is simply not possible to be safe. We won't be safe until all of us step up and do the actions necessary - even if it means being brave and doing something we don't want to do. Sometimes the bravest actions require doing something scary for the greater good. Thank you if you are willing to do that." At the corner is the logo of The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.
Image ID: background is a person wearing a white lab-coat and blue medical glove. They are holding a syringe in their hand. On the image is text that reads, “I want my community to be safe. Without all of us doing our part together, it is simply not possible to be safe. We won’t be safe until all of us step up and do the actions necessary – even if it means being brave and doing something we don’t want to do. Sometimes the bravest actions require doing something scary for the greater good. Thank you if you are willing to do that.” At the corner is the logo of The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.

I received my second vaccine on the 6th of April. I cannot put into words what I feel. None of us thought we would live during a pandemic. I imagine that our ancestors felt this way as they braved pandemics, too. Yet – they survived, too.

Each time that I rolled up my sleeve, I met the nurse who was vaccinating me with such gratitude. I do not recall ever feeling so happy to be this vaccinated before.

I have survived over a year with isolation. I would be lying if I said that I did not feel the isolating aspects of a pandemic. The need to always disinfect, the fear associated. There is a reality of being disabled and living in a pandemic that is unforgotten.

It seems never-ending– and yet, here we are. We have a solution. People are signing up to do vaccines, people are taking them – despite reservations, and people have hope.

I did not take photos of my vaccine nor of the vaccine site. I chose not to share this because I know many people require and NEED this vaccine and cannot get it yet. We have barriers to overcome. We have to overcome the physical barriers, the language barriers, the barriers of caregivers who may not allow their disabled family members to get them (this is a reality), and so many more. We need to dismantle them all.

Those photos should greet you with feelings of warmth if you are scared. I know it can be hard to show you something if you feel that it is out of reach for you.

Instead, I am writing you words. These are words I pen from my soul and my heart. These are words written by a young woman who is asking you to please listen.

Some disabled people who live with immunodeficiency have it to extremes and cannot make vaccine antibodies. When they get a vaccine, they do not produce the antibodies. When you choose to be vaccinated, you are protecting those people. I have a mild immunodeficiency and NMD– and the common cold (if you believe COVID-19 is one) is a killer for me.

When you take a vaccine, you are doing it for a lot of people. Even if you choose it because you want to simply live your life again, you’re making life safe again for our vulnerable populations.

That’s the thing. Sometimes our most vulnerable can’t say “YES” – even if they want it. They wish that they could be in your shoes for a day to get in line for that vaccine! No matter how deserving they are of that vaccine, they may not be able to access it. It’s not fair, but it’s a reality. Vaccines are not always ready and available for our vulnerable populations. Yet when you take one, you help protect our vulnerable populations.

The people who can’t be vaccinated – even if they’re qualified and want to roll up their sleeves. Not everyone can do this act. However, if you can: this is an easy way to protect those of us who need you.

These are the same people who ask you to please wear a mask, even if you don’t like it. You may hate it, but it means a lot for those of us who want to see you, laugh with you, and hug you.

And if you’re scared to be vaccinated, I am not mad at you.

Being scared during a pandemic is normal. New medical procedures are scary. I am at the doctor’s office a lot. The life of disinfectant; the life of hearing about masks is frightening. Nobody wants to live like “this” anymore. I get that. The thing is, our anxiety is at an all-time high.

That small business owner is pretty darn nervous, I assure you. Your neighbor is feeling anxious, even if you may not see it. We are all feeling that fear. If you talk about it, you will see that your feelings are normal. It’s not You vs. Them. We’re all feeling the pressure.

The way to overcome fear is by deciding that we can fight the pandemic together. Let’s agree not to let it swallow us whole. Let’s agree that we can trust science, listen to medicine, and believe that lives are worth more.

Have questions about your vaccine or risks? Your friend who practices medicine will answer them. Talk to your friends and family who were vaccinated. When people trust fear, they forget how strong their faith is. They start disregarding facts. A lot of harm comes from fear-based information. The division is easy.

I didn’t think twice after my specialist told me to get vaccinated. I didn’t get a choice, but to isolate myself. And I refused to miss the choice of being vaccinated.

An EX (!!!!) friend told me last year that “the weakest link would eventually die off,” and that I was causing the pandemic to continue; causing the lockdowns. Ultimately, I was to blame. I was horrified. How could anyone see disabled people as to blame– during a pandemic? Unfortunately, I see a lot of rhetoric where people forget that many disabled people rely on others to make conscious choices.

I’m so appreciative of every person wearing a mask and choosing to get the vaccine even if they hate it, even if they’re scared. If you’re doing the right thing, I am grateful for you.

Please keep doing it.

If you have questions, please don’t be scared to ask them. Learning isn’t anything to be ashamed of. We won’t bridge these gaps unless you ask those questions. Don’t be afraid to say, “I saw this article posted online. Is it true?”

If you want to discuss the vaccine, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Vaccine hesitancy isn’t abnormal. We are are all adjusting, but you rolling up your sleeve makes a difference. It helps protects others– and brings us back to normal. For those who don’t produce vaccine antibodies, it won’t be normal for them. They can’t do that, but you can. Would you say “NO” when it comes to giving blood? Think on that; ponder it. We are still living in a pandemic.

If you still feel scared about rolling up that sleeve, it’s okay. Please just wear your mask, keep your distance, wash your hands. Do the conscious thing. Be a good human being. Kindness is all we have to keep us moving forward.

Thank you if you will roll up your sleeve. If you are still feeling unsure, please don’t feel scared to talk to me, those you trust, community leaders, and others. At the very least – I hope my words make you think of those whose life won’t yet be “normal,” and those don’t always feel comforted by images. I see you. I feel you. I hear you. Most of all, I hope you hear me. I am not mad or sad. I just want you to hug you, love you, and keep spreading love.

I want my community to be safe. Without all of us doing our part together, it is simply not possible to be safe. We won’t be safe until all of us step up and do the actions necessary – even if it means being brave and doing something we don’t want to do. Sometimes the bravest actions require doing something scary for the greater good. Thank you if you are willing to do that. I am grateful for you. When you roll up that sleeve, you are doing something pretty darn incredible, even if you don’t see it that way. I see you. And everyone else sees it too.

Nothing brings me happiness like seeing people I love being vaccinated. I love seeing strangers being vaccinated. I love seeing vaccines being given out – period. It means that I can breathe a little easier now. There is a sense of calmness in this storm for me and my community is safer. You have no idea. It means I can keep serving others in the way I am called in my life to. It means that I can love others.

And most of all – thank you to the vaccinators for getting the vaccines into our arms.

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