The updated COVID-19 vaccine is now available at CVS, Walgreens, and other clinics. (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

“Why should I get vaccinated?”

We’ve all been hearing this question even before the first COVID-19 vaccine was released in December 2020. And now, nearly three years later, we’re hearing the same grumblings as the latest COVID-19 vaccine has been released. But as someone who just got the latest booster on Wednesday, I’m here to tell you that the vaccine is worth it. Despite the many misconceptions surrounding this topic, vaccines are safe, prevent vulnerability to illnesses, and cannot cause the diseases they are designed to prevent.

Many people were skeptical at first because of the urgency at which the vaccine was introduced. Others remained indifferent, and some debated whether or not COVID-19 was a hoax.

As a young adult, my main motivation for getting the vaccine was to build protection by creating an immune response and to reduce my risk of getting long-term COVID-19. I chose to get the vaccination as soon as it passed clinical trials and was made available to the general public. My first dose was administered in April 2021, followed by the second dose in May. I grew up getting the flu shot every year in addition to the required vaccinations for school so when the COVID-19 vaccine received approval from the FDA and was recommended by the CDC, my decision to get vaccinated was a no-brainer.

Since the introduction of the initial vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, there was an additional booster released in October 2022 and more recently, the updated COVID-19 vaccine in mid-September. After the booster was approved for eligible adults last year, I once again chose to get vaccinated. I already had the first two doses, so one more dose was reasonable. However, there continue to be varied perspectives when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Data published by the U.S. Census Bureau in July 2022 showed that 227.8 million Americans, approximately 70%, were not vaccinated. While there has not been a recent data publishing, this number is alarming. Are people avoiding the vaccine because they’re afraid it’s not safe? Or do they simply not care about getting sick?

Unfortunately, COVID-19 hasn’t vanished from the face of the planet. There are still people contracting the virus, as well as its variants, and spreading it within the community. With almost three years of data to look at and millions of people around the world who have gotten the vaccine, it’s difficult to deny that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. According to the CDC, choosing to be vaccinated is a more reliable way of building protection versus getting sick with COVID-19 first. Regardless of whether you are young and healthy or old and at higher risk, anyone can contract COVID-19 and the severity of symptoms and post-COVID conditions are not always predictable. Ultimately, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. People who are opting for complacency over being up-to-date with their vaccinations should take the time to reconsider their decision because it could very well mean the difference between life and death.

For those who are interested in getting the updated COVID-19 vaccine, be prepared for potentially long wait times. I waited for over an hour at a walk-in Kaiser clinic to receive the updated vaccine and flu shot. Additionally, some clinics have run out of the COVID-19 vaccine, leaving fewer locations for people to receive a dose. Making an appointment online may be more convenient for those with inflexible schedules. CVS and Walgreens are currently accepting appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations and flu shots.