OPINION: Why I’m not vaxxed

Josie Furst, Staff Member

My family is upstairs laughing over some movie they found to watch for Friday movie night. Popcorn is flying, which my dogs are happy to clean up. And they’re happy to be spending this time together.
I, on the other hand, am sick with a disease that I have luckily escaped for the two years this pandemic has lasted. I stare at the same TV, the same teal carpet, and the same barn door that I’ve been staring at for the past four days.
Only six more days, I tell myself. Six more days of quarantine, where everyday I wake up and a new prominent symptom makes my life hell. A stuffy nose that causes me not to breathe, chest pain that forces me to take painful breaths, or a swollen throat that makes it near impossible to swallow anything.
And I just sit on this couch and take it.
Day in and day out.
Sometimes I blame myself. Maybe I wasn’t careful enough. I took all the precautions. Six-foot distance and masking, unless I’m outside. But that won’t quiet the voice inside that yells at me for not getting that stupid vaccine. A vaccine that could have made this sickness easier to bear.
However, it also could have hurt me more than I care to admit.
I have one, soon to be two, autoimmune issues that affect my heart, immune, and nervous system. Getting that “life saving” vaccine could enlarge my heart, complicating my current heart problem.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “People with autoimmune conditions…should be aware that no data is currently available on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines for people with autoimmune conditions.”
I spent a lot of sleepless nights deciding whether I should get it. And for a while, I made peace with the decision not to get it, telling myself that if I took precautions, I could live my life.
Now that I have COVID, that peace is shattered.
For many people in my generation, there are only two explanations for those not getting the vaccine. First, your parents were anti-vaxxers before this pandemic started. They prefer to use vitamins and natural treatments as protection.
Second, your family has hard-core political views. It isn’t about saving lives. It’s your right as an American. Choosing to ignore national mask mandates and not get vaccinated is your choice. Even though your choice also affects my safety.
And yet there is a third group of people like me, who often don’t come to mind. People who still choose to wear a mask in crowds. Those with serious health conditions in a similar situation to mine.
Those people, like myself, who were so happy to hear that according to the Boulder County Website, Louisville is over 80% vaccinated. This meant that herd immunity was reached.
Little did I know, people in my vulnerable spot would receive major backlash. Even around school, hurtful comments are being thrown at the unvaccinated like, “Do you have hippie parents or something?” or even so far as to ask, “What’s wrong with you?”
I, thankfully, have not had to deal with this discrimination because I’ve been keeping my vaccine status in the dark. When I thought of this article being published, I was terrified. Telling the whole school that I’m not vaccinated? I had to make an extremely tough decision for my health. And now I might face backlash of some sort?
However, telling my story is important. And everyone needs to know that many people in my shoes don’t want to be unvaccinated. Students at Monarch need to understand what we’re going through. It’s like you don’t know that we have a fear of being isolated from those we love because we caught COVID at Homecoming, which I did. Or ending up on a ventilator because for some people it’s so hard to keep your mask above your nose.
Earlier this year, I chose not to attend a retreat for the Leed Colorado Leadership Program because I have to take my mask off at night. And during that time, I could catch COVID from someone in my cabin. I cried for the entire night after I made that decision because I couldn’t bring myself to believe that these were decisions I had to make. To not only protect myself, but also my family.
I only ask for simple things for the people like me who are in the minority.
Be kinder.
Before you push us away or discriminate against us, ask for our story. Think about how we’re struggling before you decide that we’re challenging your health. Wear a mask around us, above your nose, because although you may not get symptoms, we could die from it.
And just because I’m unvaccinated and got sick doesn’t mean I deserve it.