What made me change my mind was seeing all of the innocent people who had contracted COVID-19 and died without any loved ones by their side. The images of people who lost their lives — and the stories of their lives filled with families, jobs and just living their best life — was just too much to bear. And, as I learned and listened, it was obvious that this virus wasn’t discriminating and many people with disabilities were dying, too.
Plus, the new Delta variant surge helped me come to my conclusion, and I’m hoping my decision helps with the masking issue. I still plan to wear a mask when required, but masking is difficult for me and I’ve tried all kinds. Having a disability, which includes a speech impairment, makes it even harder for people to understand me when I wear a mask because people can’t read my lips. Communication is even more difficult right now. Plus, it’s physically challenging to even put the mask on, so I’m praying my decision will make it easier to get back to a more independent life soon.
As I contemplated my decision, I thought about all the things I had missed doing, such as traveling, shopping, eating out, going to church and festivals, and just hanging out. I realized that if I took the vaccine, I would probably be able to do many of these things again. I also thought of the people I would be protecting if I took the vaccine because this problem isn’t just about me, it’s about everyone. Therefore, it’s going to take all of us working to solve it.
I got vaccinated at my local CVS in Westown Plaza. I was scared, nervous, and all the other emotions that go along with the unknowing for the first one. I told the pharmacist how I was feeling, and she’s assured me I would be OK and it would be over before I knew it. She was right, and it was a piece of cake. My second vaccination was equally easy. My arm was kind of sore afterward, but not unbearable and nothing a few Tylenol couldn’t fix.
Although my decision to get vaccinated was a process that took a lot of thought, I’m happy I did it. I hope me being vaccinated helps the world get back on the path to normalcy.
Shari Cooper is a public relations assistant at Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley and an advocate for disability inclusion.