It’s time for our younger generations and others without underlying medical conditions to get their COVID-19 vaccinations since they have now been made widely available to the general public. Medical experts have worked tirelessly on several vaccines to make them safe and effective at preventing you from contracting COVID-19 or lessening the severity of it if you are exposed to the virus. All of the vaccines that are currently available in the United States have been rigorously tested and reviewed by the FDA and a safety board before being approved for widespread distribution. Remember, getting the vaccine will help all of us to get back to the everyday activities that we crave.
After a year of dealing with COVID-19 affecting nearly every aspect of our lives from work to school, going to the gym, grocery shopping, attending concerts, hugging loved ones, and hanging out with friends, we’re getting close to doing all of those things again – we just need more people to get vaccinated. Like other vaccinations, the COVID-19 vaccine works by producing an antibody response in our immune systems. The vaccine won’t cause COVID-19 because it does not contain the live virus. Most people have few or no side effects, but some may feel soreness at the injection site or tiredness for a few days after. That’s a small price to pay to get back to our lives before the pandemic. And speaking of price, there is no cost to anyone to get the vaccine though you may be asked for your insurance information if you have it.
So why isn’t everyone running to get vaccinated? Vaccine hesitancy is prevalent among Gen Z (ages 18-23) and Millennials (ages 24 -34), who claim they are either unsure or not planning on getting the vaccine according to multiple public polls. (Source: Why millennials and Gen Z aren’t getting vaccinated).
Hesitancy primarily centers around:
Messaging: The majority of public messaging regarding the COVID-19 vaccine has been geared towards older adults who have been most likely to get severely ill due to the virus and therefore young people have been more worried about getting their grandparents vaccinated than themselves.
Distrust: These two generations are the most skeptical of the vaccine and have distrust in the development and speedy approval of the COVID-19 vaccines. New messaging has been slowly rolling out to share the efficacy and integrity of the vaccine development process. Emphasizing the importance of the vaccine will increase the overall vaccination rate in the U.S.
Where to Go: Many younger folks do not know where to get vaccinated or are still unaware of when they will be able to obtain the vaccine. Now that the vaccine is widely available, there are many places like pharmacies, large chain stores with their own pharmacies, other public venues, or even local health departments offering vaccinations, many without a prior appointment necessary – just walk in, and walk out.
To combat vaccination hesitancy, many teens have taken it upon themselves to raise vaccination awareness. From Instagram campaigns to TikTok trends, multiple efforts are being made to encourage these younger generations to sign up for their COVID-19 vaccination. One key message per the CDC is that fully vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people. Less spread means less disease, and that gets each of us one step closer to the pre-pandemic activities that we love and miss.
On May 13, 2021, the CDC updated its recommendations for fully vaccinated people (deemed to be two weeks after a second dose in a 2-dose series, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine). According to the new CDC guidelines, “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” They are also able to resume domestic travel and refrain from self-quarantine and testing before or after traveling, and testing or quarantine following a known exposure if they are asymptomatic (with some exceptions).
This vaccine is the last stage in our effort to get back to our normal, pre-pandemic life. Vaccinations are slowly helping us to ditch the masks that have become an essential part of our outfits in the past year, and are also allowing us to reestablish those personal connections that are so important in our lives. Getting the vaccine allows us to be more comfortable around our family, friends, and loved ones who have also been vaccinated. After a year of uncertainty, we are getting closer to win the battle against this pandemic and by choosing to get vaccinated, you are contributing to this win while protecting yourself, your family, and those around you.
As the country begins to reopen, it is important to make vaccine information available on all types of social media platforms that will cater to the important and often under-recognized demographic – our young people. It bears repeating that there is now widespread vaccine distribution to anyone who is 12 or older, and many vaccination locations do not require an appointment. To find the closest vaccination location, visit the VaccineFinder website or your local Health Department.
Please, get vaccinated and help all of us to get one step closer to ending this pandemic.