An Open Letter to my Mom Who Refuses to Get Vaccinated
A Letter to My Vaccine Hesitant Mother After Our Last Conversation
I’ve thought a lot about our last conversation on the phone, admittedly more than I should be. It’s just some of your words keep coming back to me, circling my brain like an echo in the wind. I recognize my brother and I probably didn’t move the needle (pardon the pun) in your thoughts on COVID-19 vaccination. I hope you feel like we at least listened to your concerns. I know we probably threw a lot of information at you. I apologize if it felt like too much. We just were doing our best to share accurate, realistic information with you in a way that was easily understandable.
It’s just, with the delta variant of COVID-19 spreading rapidly throughout the United States, not to mention the fact that it’s being reported that 98–99% of those in ICU’s are unvaccinated, I’d be lying if I wasn’t worried about your health and well-being. I’d also be lying if I said your continued hesitation wasn’t concerning. But I also recognize, based on what I’ve read, that yourself others like you who are still vaccine hesitant probably won’t be persuaded into getting vaccinated. Several polls and studies have made it clear that most who are unvaccinated will probably stay that way.
AP-NORC poll: Most unvaccinated Americans don't want shots
Most Americans who haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19 say they are unlikely to get the shots and doubt they would…
So you might be wondering why I’d even try bringing this information up again? You might be wondering why I have sent a few texts and emails to you about all of this (notably how a few outspoken, unvaccinated individuals have changed their minds after contracting the more severe Delta strain of COVID-19 or even just some history lessons showing one of America’s founding fathers also had to deal with inoculation/vaccination in order to win the Revolutionary War)? Maybe you’re wondering why I’d bother to keep you updated on the health of both the goddess and I after getting both shots of the Pfizer vaccine? You might even be wondering why I don’t just drop it and leave you be, let you go on with your life, living in a house with four to five others who also have no desire to get vaccinated?
Honestly, I don’t know why I’m trying. If I’m being brutally honest, from time to time a small, exasperated part of my brain tells me to just shut up about at and ignore the distressed call you might send my brother and I should you ever contract any of the COVID variants. This DOES NOT mean I want or hope you do contract one of the many forms of the Coronavirus. But once the CDC announced that it’s just as contagious as chickenpox couple with the fact that the Delta variant of COVID is really rampaging through unvaccinated areas and people (as of this writing, the entire state of Arkansas only has 6 available ICU beds), it sadly feels like it might only be a matter of time for many, maybe even yourself.
Delta seems more dangerous than other COVID-19 variants, contagious as chicken pox, reports say
An internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document obtained by several news outlets warns that the…
But there is another, much louder part of my brain with much more empathy that reminds me to have patience and understand that this is a scary time for many. I know it’s been a scary time for a while, as it can feel like the world is moving passing you by, not to mention all the major changes that have happened throughout the recent 6 years of your life. Deep down, I hope you know I love you and care about your well-being. Despite some of our disagreements in the past, I feel like my brother and I have been there for you in some of the toughest moments of your life, and you’ve been there for us, allowing us shelter and food through some rough patches of our own.
That is the part of you I’ve come to appreciate the most; the caring and empathetic mom who has a big heart. You’ve shown this quality time and time again when you’ve helped school kids with disabilities, being a caregiver to your own dying mother, and even now by allowing people who need a place to stay to live in your house with you. It’s because I know this part of you exists that I find it hard to believe you are nervous about getting vaccinated or feel like that this whole pandemic is potentially a hoax or overblown by the media. I say this because That’s part of the challenge this pandemic poses to everyone, in that our decisions can actually affect others around us by passing this virus to others unless we continue masking and get vaccinated.
I remember even before our conversation the other day that you were sorta lamenting how you were hoping that this pandemic wasn’t bringing more people together, how you were disappointed people weren’t acting with more decency and understanding. Believe me, I am right there with you. I can see how you might feel disheartened by this.
As I wrote to you in a previous, slightly more poetic letter, I’m sorry at how overwhelmed you may feel life has become in addition to things not working out as you may have hoped with yourself and our family. I totally understand that this pandemic is essentially another added frustration on top of all your other worries and frustrations. Maybe the pandemic for you is a breaking point, meaning you just can’t deal with another thing on top of all the other things you’re trying to manage. I very much get that. This pandemic is totally a major inconvenience. Wearing masks are totally not fun, but it’s not like living through a global pandemic is supposed to be fun in the first place.
However, in my opinion, this pandemic is a much larger problem that is bigger than each of our personal gripes and the frustrations we carry about how we had hoped our lives would turn out. I say this because this pandemic has killed roughly 620,000 people in the United States and 4 million worldwide. In 2020, COVID-19 was actually the third leading cause of death in the United States. Again, if this were a simple, flu-like virus I highly doubt it would become as bad as it’s gotten, not to mention the fact that the flu doesn’t leave people with lasting, 6–9 month side-effects that could have broader implications about their long-term health.
Again, I’m not saying and sharing all this to scare you. I’m just sharing my feelings here because I don’t know where you are getting your pandemic information from. I know my brother and I told you to ignore the media hype from both sides of the political spectrum about coronavirus and do your own research instead of listening to whatever other are telling you to read or listen to. But if I’m honest and realistic, I also know you don’t have the stomach, nor the time for doing your own research, looking up to verify if what someone on the internet on video is saying is truth or complete fiction. That’s why I’ve been trying to send you some articles that put some of these recent events in context, based on the concerns you mentioned about in our last conversation.
I understand this is a scary time, and I know you’re already mildly vaccine skeptical in the first place. But again, the government of various administrations from both political parties has approved multiple, lifesaving vaccines throughout the last 80-ish years. If you’re concerned about there not being enough research about the vaccine, or that it’s being pushed through emergency approval instead of full authorization from the FDA, then I have some good news for you. It appears as though the FDA will at least approving the Pfizer vaccine fairly soon.
This is in addition to the fact that, according to a recent op-ed in USA Today,
“…all three U.S. vaccines went through rigorous clinical trials. Moderna was tested on 30,000 people, Pfizer on nearly 44,000, Johnson and Johnson on more than 39,000… And since then, about 165 million Americans (about 50%) have been fully vaccinated. Long-term side effects “are extremely unlikely,” according to the CDC, because historically vaccine monitoring has shown side effects appear within six weeks.”
I understand it’s easy to dismiss much of what the media is saying as a hoax, that maybe this whole pandemic is way overblown and that hospitals are fudging the numbers so they can get money money. While my brother and I agree that the media can over-hype things because they’re just looking for ratings and clicks on website, I find it hard to believe that hospitals everywhere are faking numbers, partially because if it were found out to be true they’d get severely fined, but also because it involves buildings of literally thousands of people all working in unison to perpetuate a lie. I would also ask you to consider if the many hospitals throughout the pandemic have, at various points, lied about their ICU’s being at or almost at capacity this year or last year in 2020? Do you think hospitals are lying about shortages of nurses due to burnout of having to work long hours? There’s actually a math equation that breaks down how long it would take for other science-based conspiracy theories to breakdown, believe it or not.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s hard for more than 2 people to keep a secret. I only say this based on old cop shows and docu-series I’d watch about bank robberies, especially in high school once we got cable. After watching so many, I honestly lost count of how many times a three or more person team of robbers were caught and/or had their plans destroyed due to someone ratting out the other members.
I remember one of your major concerns was about the side-effects of the COVID vaccine, and how it may affect you both physically and mentally, which is a totally valid concern. I know these things aren’t necessarily fun, and the media, not to mention other people can sometimes sensationalize certain side effects for whatever reason. This is partly why I was updating you through text about myself and the goddess getting the first and second doses of the vaccine, to show you first hand we experienced virtually no side effects aside from a sore arm for a day or two. Again, I know the media from both sides of the political spectrum has sometimes hyped up certain more severe vaccine side effects. But I would please ask you to remember the chart I sent you that detailed the percentages you’re likely to experience certain severe reactions to the vaccine versus other long-shot events like getting struck by lightning or killed by a meteor.
Finally, I know you mentioned something about being afraid that people are going to come to your house and try to vaccinate you. Maybe it wasn’t that exactly, but it was something similar. Again, I don’t know where you are getting your information from, but I can understand that sounds scary. But I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen because too many people would oppose that, not to mention I don’t think it’s feasible. For what it’s worth, Biden has already said he wasn’t going to mandate vaccine passports in the United States. Biden has also said, fairly recently that there will be no more national lockdowns. Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said something similar. Nobody is forcing anyone to do anything.
The only reason myself (and maybe others you know) are asking you to consider getting the Coronavirus vaccine is because the more people that get the vaccine the more we probably won’t have to worry about other, stronger variants worse than the delta. Another reason is because by not getting the vaccine, you could potentially be putting other people at risk, like those who are immunocompromised, older relatives, or even children. Yeah, children are also catching the coronavirus and are having some long-term effects from it as well. According to that same op-ed in the USA Today I mentioned earlier,
“In 2019, 612 children younger than 13 died in motor vehicle traffic crashes and more than 97,000 were injured. The American Academy of Pediatrics said that as of July 29, almost 4.2 million children have tested positive for the virus, nearly 72,000 of them in the last week. That’s almost twice as many as the 39,000 infections from the previous week. Since May 2020, more than 17,000 kids have been hospitalized with COVID-19; 358 have died.”
I’m only sharing my thoughts and a few more links with you because I really don’t know how ready my brother and I are for you to get sick and potentially end up in the hospital for a bit or even worse. We are also not ready or are prepared for the gigantic hospital bills that would follow should you contract COVID-19 and survive. Personally, after the multiple tragedies that have happened with you and our family over the last six-ish years or so; from the death of grandma, to divorces, to your house flooding twice, to the whole estrangement from certain other family members, needless to say I think we’re all tragedy’d out for a while, and I think deep down you don’t want to put all that on my brother and I either.
My biggest fear right now for you is that you become one of the ever growing list of names who find themselves in the hospital regretting not getting the vaccine or begging to get it once you’re in the ICU. That just rips my fucking heart apart, partially because of how those in hospitals with COVID are allowed no visitors unless over phones, due to how contagious this disease really is. People who are dying of COVID are essentially forced to die alone, with nobody by their side. And as I said previously, that fucking breaks my heart, and I don’t want that for you. I don’t want that for you. Again, I’m not trying to scare you, I’m just telling you the simple facts of what is happening.
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My brother and I just don’t want to see anything bad happen to you mom. I know we aren’t around as much, but we still do care about you. And as we’ve said before, if ultimately you don’t want to get vaccinated, that is your choice. But I would ask you to think of the implications of that choice. And sure, I get you’re worried about the side-effects of the vaccine. That’s a totally legitimate concern. But again I’d ask you to weigh the benefits of getting the vaccine vs. the benefits of not getting the vaccine. Are you comfortable rolling the dice that you won’t contract the more easily contagious delta variant of the Coronavirus? Are you willing to gamble your life and potentially the lives of those who are living in your house? Even if you don’t contract COVID, if something were to happen to you that’s non-virus related, are you willing to risk not being able to get into a hospital because they are at capacity and/or short-staffed? I’m only saying this because I’ve already shared the percentages/probabilities of having severe side effects of the different vaccines.
I know I’ve thrown a lot of information at you again. It’s just I don’t know where you’re getting your information from, and even if you don’t fully trust the information I’m sharing with you, at least it again gives you another perspective so you’re not always in an echo chamber hearing the same information over and over again that only says what you and the people you live with want to hear. Because while it’s great to have friends and all enjoy reading/talking about the same things/sharing common political views or whatever, it’s also important to make sure it doesn’t become too cult-like to the point where it becomes like a Scientology thing and only one side is correct and everyone else is the enemy.
I love you mom. And I know it’s been very confusing and sometimes scary out there in the last year. Maybe you feel like even longer than that. But just know that my brother and I are here if you have any questions, or concerns and we will do our best to answer them. But I would also say to keep in mind, we are also not medical professionals, though personally I do hold my brother’s knowledge on the subject in a little higher regard partially due to his time working as an EMT. But that’s just me though.
Please stay safe and at least make sure you are continuing to wear your mask out there. Much Love.
PS — After sharing a condensed version of this to my mom some three months ago, she did finally decide to get vaccinated (last week as of the publishing date) though not because of the letter, but because a close friend of hers contracted a severe case of COVID & ended up in the hospital.