Why the Richmond man has waited until now to get the vaccine
RICHMOND, Virginia – As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, vaccine status is becoming more prevalent in people’s daily lives. Some companies require proof of vaccination from customers, employers have required vaccine for workers, and vaccination status can even be found on dating profiles.
But those who hesitate to roll up their sleeves worry. Many feel that immunization status is becoming a form of identity and some say they feel stigmatized because they need more time to think through their decision.
“I will be getting my second injection this Wednesday,” Hunter McAnney said of his COVID-19 vaccine. After that, he will join the 5.1 million Virginians who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I was like, you know what? I’ll take a chance,” McAnney said. “It’s not going to be that bad.”
It took the 22-year-old man from Richmond nine months to decide he was comfortable getting the shot. His choice came behind a majority of Commonwealth adults eligible for the vaccine. 72% of 18+ in Virginia have already taken this step.
But McAnney said the road to his decision unfortunately came with judgment, pressure and even hostility at times from the public, social media, government leaders and others around him.
“I feel like people made me believe that if I didn’t understand, I didn’t care,” he said.
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It’s a feeling he explained couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, McAnney has said he wants more time to understand and analyze the facts, the science, the side effects and how his friends and family have been affected. He said the political division surrounding the vaccine hadn’t helped either.
“I think it was a political, a little partisan thing that made me feel weird about it, and it wasn’t even that I didn’t trust science,” McAnney said. “I would never think in a million years that a medical doctrine, or whatever you want to call it, would somehow become a political agenda.”
During his decision-making process, he wished there had been more conversations about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
“No one has ever really taken the time to have a real talk about how the vaccine is actually good for you and what you should do,” he said.
Dr Jeanine Guidry, assistant professor at the Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University, suggests a softer approach to conversations with unvaccinated people.
“See the human side of everyone,” she said. “Communicate as human beings. Say, “I understand, I understand that you are afraid”.
However, Dr Guidry said she understands why people who are immune could be frustrated by people who are not, given that the COVID-19 pandemic is now the deadliest in American history.
“I think it’s hard to see people making decisions that we know won’t protect them, and we know won’t protect those around them,” Guidry said. She also explained that some people, especially healthcare workers and other essential workers, are exhausted and are waiting for vaccines to improve our situation faster.
While pandemics and vaccines are not new concepts, she said there is one notable difference between COVID-19 and pandemics of the past: social media, which is a producer of disinformation.
“It’s really hard to correct misinformation once we as humans have accepted it,” she said. “And it has nothing to do with vaccines, it has to do with how we handle information.”
Guidry also explained that digital spaces don’t always offer the best opportunities for productive dialogue.
“If you’re going to have a conversation with someone about the COVID vaccine, try having it offline or try having it in person or over the phone,” she said. “If someone is anti-vaccine, if someone decides not to get the vaccine, don’t close the door. They can come back with questions, and they can be open to a different decision in a few months.”
As these conversations continue, McAnney encourages everyone to be understanding.
“I feel like it should be a safe environment and not under pressure. Because overall it just feels very tense, and I just want it to be more relaxed, “he said.
Virginians aged 12 and over are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Pre-registration is no longer necessary, so go to Vaccine research to search for specific vaccines available near you or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343).
Count on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for the most comprehensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Have you been fully vaccinated?
People are considered to be fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a series of 2 doses, such as Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine
How to Protect Yourself and Others When You Have Been Fully Immunized
COVID-19 vaccines are effective in protecting you against the disease. Based on what we know Regarding COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated may start to do certain things that they had stopped doing due to the pandemic.
We are still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should continue to take precautions– like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces – in public places until we know more.
These recommendations can help you make decisions about your daily activities after you are fully immunized. They are not intended for care settings.