Why I finally agreed to take the COVID-19 vaccine

Caribbean life freelancer Tangerine Clarke receiving her Covid-19 vaccine at Brookdale Urgent Care in Brooklyn.
Tangerine Clarke

Like many Caribbean-Americans who are fearful of being inoculated with the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, I too, was apprehensive. I made all types of excuses, as to why I was uncomfortable with having the COVID-19 vaccine administered to my arm, possibly because of misinformation.

I was nervous that there was not enough study done of the vaccine, and it was proven to be scientifically safe to combat the “Novel Coronavirus.” Developed in approximately 10 months, was enough doubt to scare me stiff. History has shown that vaccines take years to develop, like the Yellow Fever dose, that provides life-long immunity.

I was in no hurry for the ‘jab’ since I continued to feel safe from the virus. I wear a mask and stay six feet apart from others. I also avoid large gatherings, sanitize and wash my hands, and get tested frequently, more so, whenever I travel to other states or abroad.

But regardless of all these precautions, I felt like I was being bombarded with reports that say, travelers, may not be allowed to board an aeroplane without a vaccine card.

Like this one, that said, “As COVID-19 vaccination rates creep up and the promise of a post-pandemic future moves from improbable to possible, a new question is emerging: Should countries and the private sector embrace the idea of a digital vaccine passport for travel, working and dining? Though proving you’re vaccinated to travel is not a new concept (think Yellow fever), doing so for COVID-19 would be on a far grander scale than ever before.”

As a passionate globetrotter, this was a wake up call for me, and I felt I was being forced to take the vaccine. So without further adieu, I decided to schedule an appointment. Surprisingly, I was called sooner that expected, but unfortunately, distribution of the J&J vaccine, which I opted to take, is limited in New York, leaving me with only one option. The Pfizer two-dose, that is readily available in Brooklyn.

Was this the right thing to do? I asked myself. Albeit, I warmed up to the idea, since, family members and friends completed both phases seamlessly, and without side effects.

I arrived at 4:30 pm for a 4:40 pm time slot, and was pleased to see just a few persons ahead of me.

After completing a brief symptom questionnaire for my mother and myself, we were ushered into the treatment room less than 15 minutes after we arrived.

The process was quick. Everyone wore mask. The registered nurse (RN), alone in the room, was welcoming and competent. She asked us to verify our name, and date of birth, and explained that she would be administering the Pfizer vaccine. I recognized her accent as Jamaican.

I don’t remember feeling the prick of the needle.

A COVID-19 vaccination record card, with the date of the administration, and a follow-up three weeks period, for the second dose, is recorded on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document.

As I write this article, I could feel pain and stiffness in my upper left shoulder. Hopefully, this is a temporary discomfort that far outweighs the risk of attracting the deadly virus that has taken the lives of hundreds of Caribbean nationals.

I hope this article gives you some guidance in a time of uncertainty and inaccurate information, that prevents you from taking the vaccine.

Please know, that it’s okay to have doubts during the decision-making process. Doing research, speaking with others who were vaccinated, and talking to a doctor makes all the difference.

Most people who get the vaccine will have mild side effects, like me. And since I only received the first dose, I cannot predict what symptoms I would experience from the second dose. Fortunately, my mother had no side effects.

A recent leaflet from Senator Roxanne J. Persaud’s office stated that the vaccine is safe and effective.

It noted that getting vaccinated is an important tool in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Follow these COVID-19 resource links for more information.

www.am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov

www.vaccinefinder.nyc.gov

www.covid19vaccine.healthny.gov

www.covid19screening.health.ny.gov/covid.19-screening

www.coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you

www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-ypu-are-sick

For help, call the COVID-19 Emotional Support hotline: 1-844-863-9314

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