Vaccination – Part 3: Why I Did It
After ferreting through research, talking to scientists and medical professionals, and watching an arsenal of biology videos that took me so dangerously close to high school memories that I felt the urge to use AquaNet on my hair again (I was in high school in the 80’s), I had my answer. I was going to take the vaccine. What I found intriguing was that not one of the motivating factors for taking the vaccine included the fear of getting COVID-19. “If you’re not worried about getting COVID-19, then why would you even bother to get the vaccine? Seems like an awful waste to me.” In my research, I found that the impact of participating in this particular vaccination reached far beyond a singular fear of self-preservation. In my opinion, my choice to receive the vaccine is extremely important on three fronts. Protecting my clients, supporting groundbreaking science, and respecting my profession were all on the line here. I’m extremely particular about what I put in my body. I’m a Massage and Bodywork Practitioner as well as a former professional bodybuilder. I know meticulous care and attention to my body can have an enormous positive impact on my health (and neglect can be just as devastating). Because of this, I don’t do anything with a cavalier attitude when it comes to my personal health. What I believe following my research is that the vaccine is safe. I understood what my body naturally does and how the vaccine works with my body to help it learn how to defend itself. Once I grasped that, I felt confident the vaccine couldn’t hurt me. It wasn’t a live virus. Matter of fact, there wasn’t any viral cargo at all. All the vaccine provided was the recipe my body would use to construct a punching dummy. My body could then use this target to learn how to defend itself against the virus. (See Vaccination – Part 1: Basic Anatomy and Vaccination – Part 2: The mRNA Vaccine if you haven’t yet read those installments.) Since I was confident there was no risk to my personal health, I began to consider what participating in vaccination could mean to the following:
- Protecting my clients
- Advancing better medical treatments
- Respecting my profession
Protecting My Clients
In my practice, the age of approximately 50% of my clientele is 60+. Changing the consideration to comorbidities, I would say nearly 70% of my clients fall within this risk factor. Many (not all) of these clients have concerns about being exposed to COVID-19. I am bound by the same Hippocratic oath as anyone in the medical field, “first do no harm.” My concern for the welfare and safety of my clients is paramount. If my taking the vaccine helps give these clients peace of mind that they are safe when they come for their appointments, then I am willing to do so. After all, the goal for many of these people is that they want to relax. It’s very hard to relax when you’re concerned you could be exposed to someone carrying the virus. While it’s still not known if the virus can be spread even by someone who has been vaccinated (only time will tell on this front), I decided that I would do whatever I could to help mitigate the risk for the sake of these clients.
Advancing better medical treatments
In my profession, I’m all about complementing the body’s natural ability to heal. I have always found approaches that work with the body’s natural tendencies are far more effective than those that would attempt to force a result. The potential of mRNA falls within the realm of the former approach. From what I discussed previously in Vaccination – Part 1: Basic Anatomy and Vaccination – Part 2: The mRNA Vaccine, mRNA medicine has the potential to teach my body how to defend itself by employing functions it already does naturally! This is amazing to me. Think about it. We already possess the ability to defend ourselves from all sorts of invaders thanks to our immune system. What we don’t have is a battle plan already in place in the event of a mass invasion from viral infection. This mass invasion occurs because the virus succeeds in attaching itself to my cell and taking it over. As it is now, I have to fight the invader and learn how to win WHILE the virus does damage to my body. In some cases, drugs that could have nasty side effects are used to fight or treat viruses or their symptoms while the body plays catch up. Unlike attempting to use the actual virus in some form (as present vaccines do), mRNA based vaccines can teach our bodies how to construct a single, benign, identifying trait of an invader such as a spike protein. This is enough to trigger antibody production before the real virus is encountered. Suddenly we have a whole new school of self-defense for our bodies. Consider the applications. This could be used against any virus: HIV, AIDS, SARS, Zika, rabies, influenza, just to name a few (I’d also like to point out that the common cold is also a virus). Prevent attachment. Prevent infection. Additionally, there are even applications being explored for cancer. Consider how wonderful it would be to be able to teach the body on some level how to defend itself against cancer instead of bombarding it with chemotherapy and radiation. mRNA has been studied for these applications for decades. What seems to be missing at this point isn’t proving the mRNA platform is safe. What’s missing is volume. Normally data takes years to gather as the number of subjects needed to prove efficacy simply takes time to amass. This is what traditional vaccines have at the moment over mRNA vaccines. They’ve simply been around and in use for decades and they have amassed the numbers over that time. If ever there was an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons, COVID-19 is it. Because of COVID-19, millions of people are willing to provide the data needed in order to bring mRNA based vaccines into the realm of real possibility. Quantity based data that could have taken years to obtain will now be able to be gained in mere months. The CDC provided every vaccine participant with the opportunity to report in via text message following dosing. This data will be used to help bolster mRNA’s validity as an avenue to fight a myriad of afflictions in the future. I, for one, am excited to participate. As I stated previously, I am confident I am safe. I am willing to help prove that by being one of those reporting my personal experience. I pray that sometime in the near future we’ll all reap the benefits of this input with the development of more treatments that will work with the body’s natural abilities rather than drugs that pose risks worse than the disease itself.
Supporting the reputation of my profession
This year I celebrate 25 years as a practicing Massage and Bodywork Therapist. Twenty-five years ago, if you told someone you were a massage therapist it was greeted by leers and smarmy innuendo. In Indiana, licensure for massage therapy was still governed under antiquated brothel laws (you even had to get a syphilis test in order to get a license)! Fast forward 25 years to now. I open my email one day and find an invitation from the Indiana Department of Health to be vaccinated during a pandemic in the FIRST wave of HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS. Although we’d had other victories in establishing our credibility over the years (including rewriting our licensure requirements, thank God), it was at this moment I felt Massage and Bodywork Therapy had finally been acknowledged as a legitimate and essential method of health care. Initially I was reluctant and fearful about this invitation but that was before I did my homework. After I determined I was at no risk, I began to realize that my profession fought for this. We had fought to be considered among legitimate health care workers for years. Now we were being included with the very same doctors, nurses, and first responders the world considers valued healthcare providers. I felt if I turned down the invitation that it would be a slap in the face to everyone in my profession who’d fought to get us to this point. In support of the men and women who have helped bring Massage and Bodywork Therapy to the realm of valued healthcare providers, this shot is for you!
Summing it up
What it boils down to is this: I believe receiving the COVID-19 vaccine helps protect my clients, advances better medical treatments, and respects my profession. I don’t feel I am at risk in doing this. I’m not trying to sway anyone to take the vaccine. My goal in writing this series was helping those who had questions to put the pieces together. If this helps you make an educated decision regarding vaccination then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. In the end, please know it makes no difference to me if you do or don’t take the vaccine. What I care deeply about is that you feel good about your decision. I care that you know the facts and not the fiction and your decision is based in on the former. I care that people are free to choose to participate or abstain without being shamed for their decisions. Your body is your body. I believe everyone should have a right to decide what’s best for them. Mutual respect for those choices is a beautiful thing. I encourage you to stick to your beliefs even if they differ from mine. They are as important and unique to you as is your DNA. **Please note that I am in excellent health. I have no known health issues or immune system impairments. Decisions regarding participating in vaccination were based on this fact. Please consult your physician prior to becoming vaccinated if you presently have or suspect you may have health issues. This series should in no way be considered a substitute for the advice of your current medical practitioner. Special Thanks A series such as this one was extremely challenging to write. Thank you so much to everyone who helped provide feedback and encouragement. Special thanks to advance reader, friend, and bookworm extraordinaire, Elizabeth Robinson who helped keep my grammar in line. Thank you Jon Cooper (a.k.a. The Web Wizard), my web guy who suggested that I split the article into a 3 part series when I hit the 3200 word mark (and I wasn’t finished with the first section yet)! Also a most sincere thank you to the medical professionals and researchers who advised me. It was my concern that the information presented here be accurate. Their input helped insure that my examples and simplifying of concepts still accurately portrayed the science being discussed. They also helped cite areas in need of clarification. For this guidance, sincere thanks goes out to Joe Adams, Strategic Business Development at Life Omic, Andy Demofonte, PharmD, Gary Fourman R.Ph., Lilly & Co. (retired), and Devon Hensel MS, Ph.D. I couldn’t have done it without you!