Q: I am hesitant about getting the COVID vaccine. Is it really safe?

A: Hesitancy about any new medical treatment is understandable and any concerns deserve to be examined. It is important that you get the correct information so you can make an informed decision that you feel confident about. Vaccines provide our community the best chance at staying safe, so make sure to learn about them so you can make the appropriate decision for yourself.

One way to learn more is to listen to our local experts. The Ventura County Coalition for Compassionate Care recently held a seminar online that discussed myths and facts about the COVID vaccine. It was presented by Dr. Carlo Reyes from Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center. You can view the entire seminar on their website at www.vcccc.org. Dr. Reyes addresses some of the common concerns about the vaccine and explains why he believes it is safe and the best way for us to return to the way things were.

The most common reason people are hesitant to get the vaccine is that they are worried about the side effects. Talk to your friends who have had the vaccine to learn about their experience. Ask them what helped them decide to get the vaccine. You can also talk to your doctor about your specific medical history and hear their recommendations for the vaccine.

Many are also hesitant to get the vaccine because they fear that the production was rushed and that safety steps were skipped. However, there is a lot of information available about the timeline of the technology, and the safety and testing measures that were taken in production. Look for reputable sources to understand the process that was involved.

There is often misleading information posted on social media sites. As with everything on the internet, be sure to know your sources.  Ensure you are reading directly from the source, and not taking information from posts that do not have citations.

It is important to get the information you need so that you can feel confident in your decision. Think about what is causing you the most concern about the vaccine and then do some research on the topic. For some, reading about the development and the science behind the vaccine may help them decide. For others, it may be considering the vulnerable friends and family in their life and deciding that vaccinating will help protect them.

Whether you decide to get the vaccine or not make sure it is an informed choice. In order for the vaccine to protect our overall community it must be widespread. Therefore, the decision-making process needs to be a community conversation. After all, we have gotten through this pandemic together as a community so far, and this must continue through the vaccination process. Talk to your friends, your neighbors, and your healthcare professionals. Do your part to make an educated choice as part of your community.

If you chose to schedule your vaccine visit www.myturn.ca.gov or call the CA COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255.

 Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org

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