This post is not pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine. It's about the process of questioning that I've used to help in decision-making regarding COVID-19 vaccination with a chronic pain condition, fibromyalgia.
Right now, throughout social media, you'll find ongoing discussions and debates about the COVID-19 vaccination and fibromyalgia. It seems many people with fibromyalgia are in two minds about getting a newly available COVID-19 vaccine. Though this is not unique to the Fibro community, worldwide people want to know - Is a COVID-19 vaccine right for me?
Below is a list of very similar questions to what I consider when getting any new vaccination or medication. Since having fibromyalgia, I've noticed how sensitive I am to different foods, drugs, and the environment. Suffering through flares has made me extremely cautious about any potential fibromyalgia triggers within medications, supplements, and food. It's lead me to become a thorough researcher of the products I use to support my health and manage my Fibromyalgia symptoms. I want to know if what I'm taking or using will help me feel better or potentially cause an increase in the frequency and severity of my symptoms.
Grab a pen and paper. Try to answer the questions provided or use them to ignite a spark of inspiration to think of more questions and find the answers to what you want to know about the vaccine.
1. WHY DO I WANT TO GET THE VACCINE?
List any reasons you think the vaccine will benefit you.
2. WHY DON'T I WANT TO GET THE VACCINE?
List any reasons you think the vaccine will not benefit you.
Don't worry if you can't answer these first two questions or are unsure about your reasons. You can revisit these questions at the end, as this process should bring you more clarity.
3. WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH TELL ME ABOUT THE VACCINE?
You can check to see which COVID-19 vaccine is available in your country by asking your Primary Care Physician or checking your national or state news sites online.
Learn about the - Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine Study
Learn about the - Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine Study.
4. WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL SIDE-EFFECTS & COULD THESE AFFECT MY FIBROMYALGIA SYMPTOMS?
Talk with your Primary Care Physician or Rheumatologist. Make sure to check if the vaccine is safe for you according to your health history. You can also ask them if they know of any short-term or long-term side effects of the vaccine that you may be at risk of experiencing. It may also be essential for you to know if your health insurance, or public health sector, covers the cost of treatment for any vaccine-related injury or side-effects.
Talk to people with Fibromyalgia who have already received their first vaccination and ask them about their experience. In Facebook fibromyalgia groups, you can find numerous posts discussing COVID-19 vaccines, and already people are sharing their expertise and offering again to share their experience after their second vaccination shot.
Read reports, studies, and news publications regarding the vaccine and potential side-effects.
5. WHAT IS MY RISK OF GETTING COVID-19?
You will need to consider your location and other risk factors such as exposure, age, and health - read more. You can check your risk online with a risk calculator or ask your Primary Care Physician. It's essential to know how COVID could affect your overall health and your Fibromyalgia symptoms if you were to become infected. Be sure to ask your Primary Care Physician about your short-term and long-term prognosis if you contract COVID.
6. AM I AT GREATER RISK OF COVID-19 OR THE SIDE EFFECTS OF THE VACCINE?
This question is the tough one and something that is argued in great detail online. Hopefully, though, by exploring both Q4 & Q5, you will be able to determine which way this falls for you. Knowing this can be an important piece of information you can use to help you make your informed decision.
REVIEW YOUR ANSWERS
Looking at your answers on paper can help understand if getting a COVID-19 vaccine will be a beneficial risk for you to take or not. If you are still struggling to decide what is best for you despite knowing your answers, try to rank them by importance, it may turn out that only one or two questions matter to you. You might find that you feel much more settled on your decision than diving into many questions and answers to review. Though perhaps you are like me and want to ask every question and more, and feel that it all matters to you. Whatever way you are inclined, I hope that you will feel clear and confident in your decision through this research process. There is no doubt that this decision is a tough one for many people - not just those with Fibromyalgia.
Before we finish up, let's quickly return to the first two questions.
Why do I want to get the vaccine?
Why don't I want to get the vaccine?
Do you feel clearer now about why you do or don't want the vaccine?
If you are still undecided, that's ok. You may not have enough information yet, and you may need to reassess later when you have that information. Remember, it is ok to wait until you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
I hope this Fibromyalgia blog post helps you in your process as you make your COVID-19 vaccine decision. I hope you feel confident deciding on what is best for you, for your health, and living with fibromyalgia. I'd love to hear from you and learn about your reasons for deciding to get the vaccine, or for not getting the vaccine, or know more about your reasons for waiting or why you're undecided on receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. Direct message me on Facebook or Instagram or comment below.