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What's your "why" for the COVID vaccine?

Community leaders share their stories

For many, the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine comes with a sense of relief. But, for some, there still may be lingering questions — and in certain cases, concerns. That’s OK. To potentially answer some of those questions and offer reassurance, we spoke with a few community leaders about their reasons behind getting the vaccine.

Nu Huynh, executive director of the Iowa Asian Alliance

Thoughts on the vaccine

“I wouldn’t say I was in a hurry to get it. In fact, I understand the skepticism. But I also understand the importance of vaccines. I grew up healthy thanks to vaccines. And now my kids are, too. The way I look at it, there will always be unknowns and potential risks with almost everything. Ultimately, what is the lesser risk?”

What’s your ‘why’?

“I decided, there’s going to be anxiety and uncertainty any way I go about this. So the question is, what risk am I willing to take? Can I risk getting COVID-19 and the possible long-term effects and deaths associated with it? For me, the vaccine was the lesser risk and for the greater good.”

Did you experience any side effects?

“Right now, I’m waiting on my second shot. After my first shot, I was a little bit sleepy. I took a power nap and I was good to go!”

Advice for people who are undecided

"Talk to people you know and trust who have had the vaccine, to learn about their experience and ease your anxiety. Read up on the science to understand the potential risks of not getting a vaccine versus getting one.”

Alba Perez, former executive officer for the Iowa Office of Latino Affairs

Thoughts on the vaccine

“To me the vaccine is a gift of time and a gift of love for my family and friends. I want to stick around. I have family and grandchildren I want to see grow up, and an elderly father I want to see. The vaccine is my ticket to visiting them, hugging them close and spending time with them.”

What’s your ‘why’?

“I am 56 and have underlying health conditions, including two lung collapses and lung surgery a few years ago. So, I am concerned about the impact COVID-19 would have on me. I also want to be healthy to visit my family and my 87-year-old father in Honduras very soon. The vaccine is not available there yet. I consider it a privilege for us to have it here in the U.S.”

Did you experience any side effects?

“With both shots, I had a sore arm, and the second time around a little fatigue, a brief headache and chills. It was not bothersome at all.”

Advice for people who are undecided

“I’m witnessing a hesitancy among the people in my community. They are concerned about the speed of the approval of the vaccine, and in some cases, there is misinformation from our countries of origin, or an overall mistrust. To the people who are hesitant, I would say: It’s OK to be afraid. But this is our chance to stay healthy. Read up on the vaccine from credible sources.”

Izaah Knox, executive director of Urban Dreams

Thoughts on the vaccine

“Well, I can’t get the vaccine. I have a rare, serious disorder of the skin called Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and the vaccine may cause a severe, allergic reaction. It is a huge risk for me. The results could be deadly. So, I must count on everyone else to get the vaccine.”

What’s your ‘why’?

“Since I can’t get the vaccine, my ‘why’ is more of an ‘ask.’ Do it so people like me can be protected. Everyone in my family, aside from my children, have been vaccinated. Do it for yourself and for the people you love.”

Advice for people who are undecided

“The great thing about America is we get a choice. And I’m not here to shame you for your choice. The vaccine is not mandatory. But, I think the best choice is to get vaccinated. If you choose not to get vaccinated, do your part to protect others — continue to physical distance and wear your mask.”

Get answers to your COVID-19 vaccine questions from Blue

If you still have questions about the vaccine's safety, efficacy and cost, check out these stories on Blue: