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Dr. Zorba Paster: He’s vaccinated and wants you to get your shots, too

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 20, 2021

A Walgreens pharmacist prepares a syringe with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for residents and staff at the the Palace assisted-living facility in Coral Gables, Fla., on Jan. 12.  (Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)
A Walgreens pharmacist prepares a syringe with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for residents and staff at the the Palace assisted-living facility in Coral Gables, Fla., on Jan. 12. (Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)
By Dr. Zorba Paster For The Spokesman-Review

The other day, I received my second COVID-19 vaccine shot. No pain, no side effects. Just like the flu shot for me, but, then again, I didn’t have any side effects from the shingles shot, either.

I think you can expect you might get a fever, feel a bit blue for a couple of days, like you’re coming down with a cold. That’s your immune system ramping up.

I know folks are worried about side effects, so let me address them.

First off, on one hand, you have COVID-19, possible death for you if you get it. You also might bring the virus into your house or another house, thereby infecting them. And on it goes.

That’s one side of the equation. You remember algebra – maybe vaguely – where you had to balance equations.

So the other side of this equation is a shot, the COVID-19 vaccine.

Don’t like needles, do you? If there were a coronavirus pill, I bet nearly everyone would take it.

Shots put off people. They’re intrusive, invasive. But a pill is invasive, too. Just think of swallowing LSD – that’s a pill. It’s rather invasive. Or how about taking oxycontin? There’s a pill that might give you a death rattle.

But still, somehow, pills seem easier for us to swallow (pun intended) than a shot.

So, now, you should solve the equation and apply it to yourself. If you’re not sure of the answer, then wait a bit. Do the equation in a few weeks after you see others, like me, get the shot, and then do the calculation.

Now if you want the right answer, I’ll give to you: When offered, get the shot. Do it for yourself, your family, your community, your country.

It’s like the victory gardens people planted during World War II. You did your part for the country by growing your own food.

Now do your part by keeping all of us safe so we can open up schools – do we ever need that – plus restaurants, theaters, movies, festivals. We can get back to all those things that keep us together.

I think this is bigger than any one person. It’s a larger thing many people are considering and starting to see the sense in it.

I see this from my Facebook pages – many anti-vaccinators reconsidering their initial views. I don’t mean the 20% who are rabid anti-vaccinators, but lots of folks who maybe questioned the vaccine are now moving to the other side. They see that people who get it seem to be OK.

It changes the variables in that proverbial equation. They see the benefit of technology and science to help in getting our society back to normal. Follow the good information, sift and winnow, make the decision. Do the math.

Now some Q&A responses from Facebook queries I received after my last COVID-19 shot.

Doc: I’m happy for you but a bit jealous because I don’t think I’ll have access to the vaccine until 2022 or 2023 from the way the rollout has been conducted.

Gentle reader: I’ve received lots of comments on this. Yes, they have stumbled in distribution. Are you surprised? I’m not.

The feds stumbled from Day 1 and have continued to stumble along the way. But there is good news: In Wisconsin, we have a coordinated effort to get out the vaccine.

We do have to ramp it up, but from the people I’ve talked to, they’re working on it. The logistics are not easy – we need qualified medical personnel to reconstitute the vaccine, make sure it’s kept safe and secure. Then we need others to give the shot, go into the electronic health record and record the shot, etc.

It’s not like the “good old days” of the 1950s when I was a kid, and we all marched down the hall in school to get our polio vaccine. You can just imagine what record-keeping was like in those days – nonexistent.

Doc: The vaccine does not stop you from getting COVID-19; it only lessens the side effects.

Gentle reader: Sorry, but you’re wrong. The antibodies from the shot stop you from getting COVID-19. We don’t know if they stop you from spreading it.

Doc: OK, let’s start lobbying for faster distribution. I’ve read some other countries are vaccinating 24/7. What’s the holdup?

Gentle reader: Israel is on top of its game. It has socialized medicine, a great public health system augmented by an active reserve force that’s helping out. It has what we don’t have – a national policy.

Doc: I live in Oklahoma. My county had a sign-up to distribute 800 doses. Every spot was filled within two minutes. I’m so frustrated.

Gentle reader: Frustrated you should be. This is where you should call up your local politician and ask them what’s happening. This is a national emergency, and if we all lobby, we’ll get farther than if we sit on our fannies and do nothing. Stay well.

Dr. Zorba Paster is a family physician and host of the public radio program “Zorba Paster on Your Health.” He can be reached at askzorba@doctorzorba.com.

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