A nurse inoculates a volunteer with Russia's coronavirus vaccine during trials at a Moscow clinic on Sept. 10, 2020.

It is important to take advantage of the accessibility of COVID-19 vaccinations across the nation while they are being distributed in an effort to return to normalcy at a faster rate. While hesitation surrounding the vaccine can be attributed to the short amount of time taken for production, there was a global cooperation of experts who partnered together to test and produce the vaccine at a fast rate.

The first COVID-19 vaccines to be distributed aside from clinical trials was in December 2020, and up until March, I didn’t think I would be able to get the vaccine for many months to come. Now, in April 2021, there are multiple locations available for vaccines, and a large number of people are eligible to receive their doses.

While I understand why many are hesitant to get the vaccine with reasons such as the short amount of time taken to produce them, side effects, anti-vaccination mindsets and more, I strongly believe it is important for people everywhere to get vaccinated.

I have seen the argument that since the flu vaccine took a few years to produce, the COVID-19 vaccine cannot be safe because the production took less than a year. In the midst of the global pandemic, researchers, scientists, experts and professionals from all over the world came together to cooperate in combating the virus and producing the vaccine.

On April 2, I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Greenville Convention Center. I made my appointment the day before and experienced no difficulties or confusion. I have never been one to be afraid of needles or shots, though I was nervous about the side effects after hearing about other people's experiences.

My arm was sore for a few days, but other than that, I felt completely fine. I have also never had COVID-19, which I know can increase the intensity of side effects from the vaccine. This goes along with the argument that people who experience side effects will be more protected from the virus than those that don’t, which is not how vaccines work.

It is my understanding that the first dose of the vaccine introduces, or reintroduces, COVID-19 antibodies into the body in an effort to build up immunity to the virus so that the second dose can alert the body that the antibodies need to stay. Vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna, that require a second dose, do so in around two to four weeks as the antibodies from the first dose may begin to diminish.

My grandma, who currently lives in Ontario, Canada, is 90 years old and received her first dose around a month ago, though she will not receive her second dose for another four months.

Ontario accepted a recommendation from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunizations that extends the period of time between receiving the first and second dose of the vaccine.

This allotted time frame was approved in an effort to supply more citizens with the first dose as the overall supply of vaccinations is limited. From what I have gathered about the vaccine process, this amount of time could prove to be counterproductive.

If I were a resident in Canada who had to wait four months between doses, I would understand the decision of others to wait until the vaccine could be distributed within a 2-4 week period before getting it. This is not the case in America, and I believe everyone here should get the vaccine now, instead of waiting until it is “safer,” as I don’t believe many changes will be made.

Mass vaccination across the country will allow for the spread of the virus, as well as the amount of cases, to be contained and under control at a faster rate. Experts have expressed the idea that social distancing, masks and the presence of the vaccine could be around for many more years if enough of the population decides against receiving the vaccine.

I encourage those who are hesitant to become vaccinated to do a great deal of research, as well as listen to the professionals who tested and produced the vaccine, before finalizing their decision of not receiving it.

In just a few weeks I will be proudly, fully vaccinated and so far, I have felt no signs of turning into a zombie, yet.

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