Just a few months ago, someone asked me when I thought people like us (youngish, healthy, no comorbidities) would get the Covid-19 jab.
Probably only early next year, was my gloomy response. At that point I thought we’d be lucky to get it before winter 2022.
Yet here I am, writing this a day after I received the first of two Pfizer doses. I am absolutely terrified of needles yet I couldn’t have been happier to feel it pricking my skin.
I haven’t had any side-effects other than feeling tired and having a sore arm. It’s almost impossible to describe just how wonderful it feels every time I raise my left arm and feel the tenderness – a constant reminder that I’ve received the jab that could be the difference between life and death.
And before you think I’m being dramatic, let me remind you that nearly 200 million people around the world have had Covid and more than 4 million have died of it (although many experts say the number is far higher).
As I’m writing this, I’ve just heard actor and producer Shona Ferguson has died of Covid-19-related complications. He was just 47 years old. He was just a few years older than my husband and he was in the prime of his life.
So were so many others who lost their lives to this disease.
So many times I feel like I’m in a surreal dream when I hear of another colleague who has lost a loved one to it. Or that a friend is having to fill in for three people in their team who are in hospital trying to survive.
I’ve felt helpless in the face of grief, of people near and far, who are trying to come to terms with arranging funerals with just 50 people.
I’ve felt rage when mothers and fathers of young children don’t make it home after they’ve ended up in ICU.
And I’ve felt hope as more and more people head to vaccination sites to get that all-important shot.
As I waited patiently to go into the Cape Town International Convention Centre, I looked around at everyone else waiting too. Everyone just seemed so excited to be there. So alive.
The woman in front of me in the queue had her little girl with her. Even though it was pretty cold, she was bouncing on her mom’s arm trying to “blow kisses” when I waved to her.
I thought of how that little girl had a better chance of having her mom stay alive once she got the vaccine. And I felt hopeful that we will get through all of this.
The vaccine is more than just a shot in my arm. It’s an injection of hope that I will not die of Covid-19. It’s made me believe that as more people get vaccinated, more people are going to get back to the business of life and that it’s going to help us regroup and rebuild.
It also reminded me how much has been lost. I think of people like this incredible young woman who lost her baby and spent 79 days in ICU and still has to go on.
And this woman who lost her husband to Covid three months after they married.
I think of my aunt who was mourning my uncle for just a year when she lost her 40-something son to this virus. And of the family of this nurse, the first to die in the Western Cape.
And I wonder how it is possible that there are people who don’t want this vaccine. When there’s so much loss, grief and pain – why would you not choose to have something that can give you some measure of protection?
Yes, you can still get Covid after getting the vaccine. But, as I’ve seen in various social media posts, it’s like wearing a seatbelt when driving. You can still get into an accident – but you have a better chance of surviving compared to not wearing a seatbelt at all.
You only have one chance at this life thing. Why not give yourself your best chance of surviving?
I know there are arguments about whether the vaccine is safe. If you’re still unsure, I urge you to read this story about vaccine facts versus fiction.
I encourage you to read reputable news sources, quoting real doctors and scientists. I implore you to consider that millions around the world have been vaccinated for months now and have not suffered adverse reactions to vaccines bar the rare exceptions.
I want to be able to hug my parents and in-laws without feeling like I’m plunging a blade through their hearts. I want to be able to go to a restaurant with friends and not feel like I’m signing a suicide note when I pay for that meal.
I want to be able to have a sniffle or a cough without wondering if this is my last few weeks on the planet. I want to have my colleagues in the office and not be afraid it will be a super-spreader event.
I want everyone to want that too. The only way we’ll truly get through this as a species is to make sure everyone has the best possible protection.
We want this to eventually be “just another flu” and not one that holds us in the vice grip we’ve been in for more than a year.
And that means having as many people vaccinated as is humanly possible. I hope that if you have even the slightest hesitation, that you’ll give it some thought. Read the stories of the people I’ve listed above. Talk to friends and family who have been vaccinated. Do everything in your power to get the right kind of information.
Your life could depend on it.