Immunization changes life perspective

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Photo by Anonymous

A Staples student after getting their first COVID-19 vaccine, the Pfizer shot.

As the child of divorced parents, I was forced to decide which side of the vaccine debate I favored. Although my situation is unique, I encourage more high school students to separate  themselves from their innate biases and seek independence.

While I grew up in an anti-vaccine household, an outsider may see the decision to receive the vaccine as black-and-white. After all, vaccines are covered on seemingly every major news outlet, preached by every medical professional and stressed by every trusted adult.

However, it can be difficult to distance yourself from your biases, especially those coming from the people that shape us the most – our parents and guardians. 

Even before my parents divorced, my mother was always against vaccinations. She told me that getting vaccinated wasn’t necessary and that I could immunize myself with “natural means.” Despite her beliefs, I knew she cared about me. 

My father, on the other hand, was constantly working as a traveling doctor in New York City and in Connecticut. As a result, I had little time to be with him growing up. Nevertheless, during the few times I would speak to my dad, he would advise me to get vaccinated. 

However, as COVID cases increased, I found the broader national conversation about vaccine efficacy playing out in my family.

As COVID cases increased, I found the broader national conversation about vaccine efficacy playing out in my family.”

— Anonymous

While my mother told stories about hospitalized Pfizer vaccine recipients, my father told me about the many refrigerated morgue trucks that lined the Brooklyn hospital where he worked. 

Originally, I was apprehensive – the fact that a needle would be jabbed into my shoulder made it easier for me to opt out. However, as dissonance grew in my mind, I realized that I needed to find my own truth. 

Independently, I started doing investigative work on many of the claims that my mother has made. Searching case studies on anti-vaccine claims, I not only found that many of the claims were false, but I realized the consequences of not taking action earlier. 

In addition to proven medical studies, there are also online communities to help teens who are also facing parental vaccine-resistance. As a result, I felt more comfortable being defiant in asking my mother for consent.

I am proud to say that I am now fully vaccinated and caught up on my immunizations. However, I encourage more teenagers to not succumb to their surroundings simply because it’s easy. 

Whether it’s trying a new hobby or doing investigative work, the more you get outside your personal bubble, the more you can learn about yourself. As high school students, we can’t expect to have figured everything out yet, so it’s important that we constantly question our ‘norms’ when we’re still young.

*For the safety of the writer’s family, the writer has requested to remain anonymous.