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  • Brent Holmquist

Normal Life

Everyone yearns for normalcy. Change, good or bad, is anxiety provoking. Humans want stability in their individual lives, within their homes, in their neighborhoods, local community, nation and world. In the past year+, this normalcy has been destroyed by something that we can't see with the naked eye, but has affected all levels of our existence.

I often get the question, "Should I get the COVID vaccination?" At this stage, the vaccination is available to all who want it who are 16 years and older. Many people have already made up their minds that the vaccination benefits them more than the risk of side effects. Although they may not think of the vaccination choice in terms of risk vs benefit or pros vs cons, that is exactly what they are doing. We do this benefit analysis ALL.THE.TIME whether we realize it or not.

I am big into Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA (formerly the Boy Scouts). I'm a Cubmaster for my middle son's pack. My oldest son is a 1st Class scout in Scouts BSA and I do a lot with his troop as well. Every time we plan an outdoor activity we ask the older scouts, "what do we do if we know we are going to have severe weather?" If we have a day hike planned in a state park, I look at the radar the morning of the hike. If there is a line of strong thunderstorms with a tornado warning in the area that we'll be traveling to and hiking, guess what? We're not going on that hike. It is too risky to bring 10 scouts and a few leaders to an area that has active bad weather because 1) the risk of injury to someone is too high and 2) the benefits that we would get out of that hike in bad weather is too low (ie we will have a terrible time). But...if the weather looks great with temps in the 70s, sunny and light wind, the risk/benefit discussion is completely different.

The same discussion is needed with the vaccination (or any other medical decision). Is a particular intervention appropriate for me?? Since COVID has affected all aspects of our lives, we have a high potential benefit with an intervention. Those who are 50s and older have suffered the most personal risk since the majority of deaths have occurred in this age range. So vaccinations have a high personal benefit for that group. In those who are younger, teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, the personal risk of dying or being hospitalized is less, but certainly not zero risk. That group still benefits personally, not only in their own health, but also in the health of those around them. With the vaccination, that age group is much less likely to spread the virus asymptomatically to those around them (more vulnerable family and friends).

The risk of vaccinations almost always is seen within the first month or two, and for the vast majority of people who do have side effects it is seen in the few days to week after the vaccination. So we know from previous vaccinations and with the current COVID vaccinations, the likelihood of having long term side effects is pretty minimal. Approximately 50% of people have no side effects. The other 50% will have mild/minor side effects of body aches, injection site discomfort, fevers, and fatigue for about a day or 2. We just aren't seeing longer term effects.

We are all human. We all have free choice (mostly). We all can make the decisions for our own health (mostly). Instead of listening to those who have an agenda politically (either side) regarding the vaccination, listen to yourself. Make the decision for yourself and those around you. Even if you are in a lower risk group (younger with minimal health concerns), please give the COVID vaccination (and all vaccinations) some serious thought. The vaccinations really have minimal risk, and the risks they do have are short term and self limiting (and they are free). You can help not only yourself but help those around you that you love. If enough of us do this, guess what? We get back to our normal lives.

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