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My Friend Jen

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Sickle Cell And The Covid-19 Vaccine

How the sickle cell community feel about taking the Covid 19 vaccine. 

My Thoughts On The Covid-19 Vaccine

The biggest discussion among the sickle cell community right now is about the Covid-19 vaccine. Last year when the pandemic hit there was lots of information, zoom meetings and questions being answered. All relating to covid-19 itself and the impact it would have on people living with sickle cell. However the same energy doesn’t seem to be here when it comes to the vaccine. 

Could this be because no-one really has the answers?

Vaccines have been providing immunity to infectious diseases from the late 1700’s (big up man like Edward Jenner). Although this is nothing new, what is new is being among the first to receive a vaccine that has just been developed. And for a disease we pretty much just found out about.

With that being said, everything has to start somewhere. Despite the fact that this may seem new to us, it’s nothing new for expert scientists and researchers who do this for a living.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to vaccines in general. I religiously take the pneumococcal vaccine after having a life threatening case of pneumonia and acute chest syndrome. But I opt out of having the flu vaccine every winter.

The General Consensus From The Sickle Cell Community

There seems to be a complete split between people who are pro the vaccine and people who are not so sure. One thing I can say is that we are a community who are very respectful towards each other. There are no big debates or people telling each other that they are right or wrong.

After trolling posts and speaking to a few warriors personally, here’s what I can share with you all.

judgement scale and gavel in judge office

All Those In Favour:

At first glance there seemed to be a lot more people in favour of the vaccine. The most common reasons were based on people wanting to feel better protected against Covid-19. And to be able to come out of shielding and integrate back into society with less chance of catching it. With the vaccines said to be 90% or more effective at preventing people from catching the coronavirus, the fear of catching it far greater out-weights the risk of any side effects.

Those who had the vaccine already and shared their experience, seem to be encouraging more people to take it and giving those who may have been on the fence more confidence and reassurance to follow suit.

One warrior gave me permission to share her experience of having the vaccine,

“I had mine and 6 hours later, I had malaria-like symptoms (fever, headaches, chills, shivering, muscle aches, fatigue). I wouldn’t call them flu-like symptoms because I have experienced [both] flu and malaria in the past. The symptoms lasted for 48 hours but it triggered a crisis (moderate) which I’m still nursing. It got me thinking if the vaccine could elicit such [a] reaction, how terrible and threatening the covid infection must be. I’m glad I took the shot.”

– Anon.

Other’s I spoke to seemed to report similar symptoms with a few having no symptoms at all.

All Those Against:

I dug a little deeper (in the comments) and reached out to a few more individuals. I realised that more warriors are against the vaccine than I had initially thought. Respectfully, they have kept their thoughts to themselves, not disagreeing or debating with the sickle cell warriors who are pro the Covid-19 vaccine so as to not influence the decision of others who may still be unsure.

One warrior who I spoke with said,

“I’m in a few groups and all I see are people glad the vaccine is available to us and people asking if thy’ve ‘got their call’ [from the Gp] like they’re getting free money or something. I don’t get what the excitement is about but I get that they feel safer and better protected from this virus. So if that’s good for them the i’m happy for them. It’s just not for me though. I’m good.”

– Anon.

The majority of people who are not so eager to have the vaccine are also not so eager to explain themselves. This I can somewhat understand. I also think it’s fair and considerate to others.

What Our Poll Say’s:

We did a poll on our Instagram Stories and these were the results.

sickle cell and covid-19 vaccine poll

Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer and this whole situation is something new for all of us. I just know there have been so many questions surrounding this topic. I hoped this post may help some people to decide.

If you have questions or want to connect with people who have had the vaccine to get more clarity, please feel free to get in touch with me on Instagram @JustJLeah

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