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Why I Decided to Get Vaccinated

(Refuting Covid Antivaxxers)

Part One


By Gary F. Zeolla


      Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, I have been more concerned about my now 85-year-old dad than about myself. Though he is relatively healthy for his age, his age itself put him at high risk of serious consequences from a Coronavirus (CV) infection, while myself, at now 60-years-old, have a far less risk of such. I also knew my dad would have the opportunity to get vaccinated long before I would.

      And in fact, he got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on February 22, 2021 and his second dose on March 15. I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 15 and the second dose on May 6, 2021.

      In this four-part article, I will discuss why I was very relieved when my dad was fully protected and why I decided to get vaccinated myself. It is my hope that my story will help the reader to decide if to get the Covid vaccine or not, if you have not yet gotten the Covid vaccine, or to reinforce you made the correct the decision if you have already gotten vaccinated.

      I know this four-part article is quite long, but that is because much misinformation about the Covid vaccines is being spread over the airwaves and on the Internet, so it will take that much writing to refute all of the misinformation. And I think the best way to do so is to tell my story and to present the research I did that led to me to decide to get the vaccine. It is my hope my story and research will ease any fears the reader might have about the Covid vaccines. But you will then need to decide for yourself whether to get the vaccine or not.


Qualifiers and Definitions


      To be clear from the start, I am opposed to any kind of mandate for people to get vaccinated and any requirements for a “vax pass” for any purpose. People should be free to decide for themselves whether to get the vaccine or not apart from any outside pressure. However, such a decision needs to be based on accurate information, and that is what I have done my best to present in this four-part article. After Part Four is an extensive list of references on a separate page, so that the reader can pursue them if you feel a need to do even more research.

      Note also, by “Covid antivaxxers” I mean those who are opposed to the Covid vaccines, who say dogmatically they will not get the vaccine themselves, and who spread misinformation about the vaccines that deter others from getting them.

      I will mostly shorten the name “COVID-19” to just “Covid,” while I will abbreviate the virus that causes the disease from “Coronavirus” as “CV.”

      That said, on to my Covid vaccine decision story. It starts over twenty years ago, with this four-part article being written in mid-May 2021.


Getting the Flu


      In the summer of 2000, I overcame a serious health problem, that being crippling low back pain (see Overcoming Back Pain). As part of my attempt to overcome that problem, I really doubled down on healthy habits, being meticulous about my eating plan and engaging in vigorous exercise. After overcoming the back pain, I continued with those healthy habits and felt like I was in the best shape I had been in for many years.

      But then in February 2001, I developed Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). I won’t go into details here, as I do so in the linked to article. Suffice it to say, as a result of the RLS, I barley slept for about two weeks.

      At that time, I was working out at a Nautilus Center. I would go in the middle of the afternoon, when it was not very busy, as I dislike dealing with crowds when I work out. But one day during this two-week sleepless period, the place was packed with teenagers. It would seem, the coach for the wrestling team for the local high school brought the entire team to show then how to use Nautilus equipment.

      A few days after that, I came down with the seasonal flu. My temperature never got too high, 101 degrees at the highest, but it stayed between 100 to 101 for over a week, and I felt very fatigued that entire time. Altogether, I was sick for ten days. That was normal for me. Throughout my life, whenever I got the seasonal flu, I would always be sick for one to two weeks.

      I tell this story for two reasons. First, many who do not want to get the Covid vaccine say they are healthy, they eat right and exercise, so they are unlikely to get infected with Covid. Or if they do, they will only have a mild infection.

      Now, it is very true that if you are following healthy habits, you are far less likely to get infected or to have serious consequences if you do get infected than someone who is unhealthy and not following healthy habits. That has been a theme of my CV writings throughout this pandemic.

      However, Life Happens. By that I mean, things happen that can temporarily derail normal healthy habits and/ or that reduce normally strong immunity. And one thing that can reduce the strength of the immune system is a loss of sleep. In my case, for me, it was the development of a rare health problem that caused a loss of sleep. But lots of things can do so, with stress being at the top of the list. In addition, various health problems can cause a loss of immune strength, such contracting cancer.

      My point is, you might be healthy right now, but something might change in a dramatic fashion, and that could set you up for serious consequences from a CV infection before you have time to get vaccinated. It would be better to get vaccinated now, while you are healthy, than wait for the unexpected to happen.

      It should also be noted, that most likely, one of those teenagers at the Nautilus Center had the flu but still went to school and wrestling practice and thus to the Nautilus Center. And that is how I got infected with the seasonal flu. In fact, if today’s “contact tracing” would have been done back then with the flu, I would bet others would have been traced to have contracted the flu that day. That is important, as you never know when you might be in contact with someone who is infected with Covid, or the seasonal flu for that matter.


After-Flu Development


      The second reason I tell this story is because of what happened after I recovered from the flu. What happened is I felt like I never fully recovered from it. Over the next several weeks, I still felt fatigued. Come spring, I went to my doctor (PCP, personal care physician). He prescribed an antibiotic, thinking maybe I was still infected in some way. But that did nothing, and the fatigue continued.

      Then I began to develop pain all over my body. It started in in the lowest left rib, then wrapped about to my back, then to my entire torso, then down my legs. It was at that point, on August 27, 2001, that I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

      Then along with the fatigue and overall body pain, I developed overall body stiffness, leading to periods of being completely or almost completely paralyzed for hours or days at a time. That led to a diagnosis of Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS). Then my allergies worsened, and eventually I was diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Follow the links for details on each of these rather unique health problems. But here, I still deal with all of these problems to this day (May 2021).

      My point is, the serious problems I have experienced over the past twenty years began with that case of the seasonal flu back in February 2001. This experience is similar to what has been dubbed “Covid long haulers.” That is a reference to people who seem to recover from a CV infection but continue to have symptoms months later, most notably fatigue.

      Given that Covid is just over a year old, we don’t know yet if these Covid long haulers will continue to experience after-effects from their Covid infections years from now, or if their current fatigue will dissipate or develop into even more serious symptoms. But the latter is possible given my experience with the flu.


More Reasons for This Story


      I tell the rest of this story for several more reasons. First, it is one reason I chose to get the Covid vaccine. Given my experience of having long standing effects, I feared I might see a similar drop in my health after a Covid infection. I have learned to deal with my problems as they currently are and have been able to remain productive and in shape due to having set up a home office and a home gym. But if my health problems were to get even worse, that could leave me unable to function.

      Second, my case of the seasonal flu was not that serious. A 101-degree temperature is not that high. But it led to twenty years and counting of problems. Similarly, many Covid long haulers also had mild symptoms from the CV, but they are still experiencing symptoms months later. Thus, even if you are healthy and only experience mild symptoms from a Covid infection, it is possible you could still experience these long-lasting effects.

      That is a response to another objection by Covid antivaxxers. Even if you are likely to have a mild CV infection, that does not mean you will not have after-effects from a CV infection. I truly wish I had gotten a flu vaccine back in the fall of 2000. That might have prevented that case of the flu in February 2001 and thus all of the problems I have experienced over the past 20 years.

      But now, given my experience with the flu, I have been getting a flu shot every year for at least the past fifteen years. During that time, I have gotten the flu three times. Each time occurred once again after a period of sleep lost or I had been run down for some another reason, namely after competing in a powerlifting contest. However, and this is very important, each time, I was only sick for 3-4 days. Again, normally in my life, when I got the flu, I would be sick for one to two weeks.

      That is a response to another Covid anti-vaxxer objection, that it is still possible to get Covid if you are vaccinated. That is true, but very unlikely. The Covid vaccines are far more effective than the annual flu shot. The Covid vaccines have an efficacy rate of about 95%, while the annual flu shot is usually only about 50% effective. Thus, it is very unlikely for someone who is fully vaccinated for Covid to contract Covid, far less likely than for someone who is vaccinated for the seasonal flu to get the flu. But even if you do get Covid after being vaccinated, like with the flu, most likely it will be a far less serious case than if you had not been vaccinated.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that those aged 65 and older who had received both doses of either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine were 94% less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than seniors who had not been vaccinated. Seniors who had received only one dose were 64% less likely to be hospitalized (Washington Examiner. Fully vaccinated).


People who get immunized but not protected by the vaccine will probably have a milder case of COVID-19 than if they had not been immunized, [Dr. David] Margolius said. That’s why health experts are urging adults to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to them (Cleveland. If).


      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] have reported that about .008% of the fully vaccinated have become infected and about 1% of them have died. Public health officials said such cases were expected and their number reassuringly few….

As of April 20, the CDC reported 7,157 infections among 87 million Americans who had been fully vaccinated. Nearly half of the cases involved people 60 and older, and about a third of the infected had no symptoms. Nearly 500 were hospitalized, two-thirds because of covid-19. Eighty-eight people died, 13% of them of causes other than covid-19….

      A person is more likely to be hit by lightning than have a breakthrough infection, [Dr. John] Swartzberg said. Dr. Carlos del Rio, an expert in infectious disease and vaccines at the Emory University School of Medicine, said someone was more likely to be hit by a car in a busy intersection than develop a breakthrough covid-19 infection.

      “It is really important for the public to put this in perspective,” said Swartzberg. “The chances of you having a breakthrough of any kind are minuscule. And the chances of that breakthrough making you even modestly ill are even more minuscule” (Trib Live/ Los Angeles Times. Scientists).


Of the more than 95 million people in the United States who were fully vaccinated, only 9,245 — or 0.01 percent — have been infected with the coronavirus as of April 26, according to the CDC. Just over a quarter of those people never had symptoms; 132 people, or 1 percent of the breakthrough infections, died. Twenty of those deaths were in asymptomatic people or probably not related to COVID-19 (Science News. Here’s what).


      But it should be noted, by “fully vaccinated” means two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or four weeks after getting the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine. It takes that long for the body to develop full immunity. Almost all cases of people being infected after being vaccinated have occurred during that two or four week window. That is especially the case with the Covid variants.


      In an update to the study posted on April 16 [2021], the researchers noted that within the group of people who received two doses, which comprised eight people, all of the B.1.351 [South Africa variant] infections occurred within a week to 13 days after the second shot. None of them tested positive for it 14 days or more after the second dose….

In respect to the South African variant, they said that among a group of 800 study volunteers in South Africa, where B.1.351 is widespread, there were nine cases of COVID-19, all of which occurred among participants who got the placebo. Of those nine cases, six were among individuals infected with the South African variant (Newsmax. Study).


      Note that the headline to the preceding Newsmax article is misleading, “Study: South African Variant May ‘Break Through’ Pfizer Vaccine Protection.” But as the preceding quotes indicate, the Pfizer vaccine is in fact very effective against it, after that two weeks after the second dose. That is confirmed by a more detailed study of this topic:


      One aspect of the ongoing pandemic that experts are meticulously watching is the emergence of coronavirus variants. Some mutations in the coronavirus could help it evade immune responses in vaccinated people, who could require a booster shot to provide better protection.

      In Israel, for instance, people vaccinated with Pfizer’s shot may be more likely to be infected with a variant first identified in the United Kingdom or one from South Africa compared with unvaccinated people, researchers reported April 9 in a preliminary study posted at Unvaccinated people, on the other hand, are vulnerable to all versions of the coronavirus.

      But the cases in vaccinated people appeared to happen in a particular time frame, says Adi Stern, an evolutionary virologist at Tel Aviv University. People who caught the version of the virus that emerged in the United Kingdom were more likely to have received only one vaccine dose, perhaps because they did not yet have full protection. Those who got two doses were more likely to get infected with the version from South Africa, but only until two weeks after the shot.

      After that two-week period, Stern and her colleagues didn’t see breakthrough cases of the variant from South Africa….

      In some rare cases, infections can happen even in the face of a strong immune response from a vaccine. One patient in New York, for instance, developed COVID-19 symptoms 19 days after receiving a second dose of Moderna’s jab, despite having high levels of protective antibodies, researchers reported online April 21 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The virus responsible for the infection had a mutation thought to help the coronavirus evade the immune system. But it is possible that the patient got infected before the second shot took full effect, the researchers note (Science News. Here’s what).


      On that last point, the average time from infection to display of symptoms is 5.1 days, but it can range from 2-14 days. That means, a person could get infected during that two or four weeks after final vaccination but not display symptoms for up to two weeks after that time period. That is why you still need to be cautious and practice mitigation measures (mask wearing and social distancing) during that time.

      But Dr. Emmit Oz, on my local ABC news affiliate WTAE on May 10, 2021, confirmed that the Pfizer vaccine protected against the UK and South African variants after that two-week period.

      As for myself, I was probably the most cautious I ever was during this pandemic during the five weeks from my first Pfizer shot to two weeks after my second shot. I figured it would be the worst of both worlds to have to deal with both side effects from the shots and to have to deal with the symptoms of being infected with Covid. And that leads to the next issues to cover.


Length and Seriousness of CV Symptoms


      As indicated, before I began to get an annual flu shot, whenever I got the flu, I would be sick for one to two weeks. As such, I figured that if I were to get infected with the CV, I would probably be sick for at least that long, probably longer. I say the later, as many who get infected have been sick for weeks or even months.

      For instance, a female friend of mine contracted the CV in early December 2020. It was not until early March 2021 that she was fully recovered. In-between, she really suffered, waking up many nights and even many times a night with hot flashes, being soaked from her own sweat. She also was very fatigued, had a temperature, and had lost her sense of taste and smell. Making matter worse was her PCP did nothing for her. That had her so frustrated, and with feeling so awful from the CV symptoms, she was literally in tears with me on the phone at one point.

      She was already taking vitamin D and other vitamins, but not zinc, so I sent her a bottle of zinc capsules. She said she regained her sense of taste and smell after two days of taking it. But that was all it helped with. I had to encourage her to contact one of her specialists. She did, and he prescribed a steroid, and that helped her turn the corner. But it was still a long road back to normal.

      Another example is classic rocker Ted Nugent. He was a Covid-denier, having called the pandemic a hoax. That is, until he got infected himself. He was sick for nine weeks and said he felt like he was going to die. He didn’t, but still, nine weeks is a long time to be sick.


      Rocker Ted Nugent is revealing he was in agony after testing positive for coronavirus — months after he said the virus was “not a real pandemic.”

      “I thought I was dying,” Nugent says in a Facebook live video posted Monday. “I literally could hardly crawl out of bed the last few days,” adding: “So I was officially tested positive for COVID-19 today” (Yahoo! News. Ted).


      Rocker Ted Nugent is revealing he was in agony after testing positive for coronavirus — months after he said the virus was “not a real pandemic.” “I thought I was dying,” Nugent says in a Facebook live video posted Monday. “I literally could hardly crawl out of bed the last few days,” adding: “So I was officially tested positive for covid-19 today.”

Nugent, a supporter of ex-President Donald Trump, previously called the pandemic a scam and has railed against public health restrictions. He has repeated a narrative pushed by conservative media and disputed by health experts that suggests the official death count from the coronavirus is inflated (Trib Live/ AP. Ted).


      I need to note that after I wrote the preceding, I heard Ted on the “Rose Unplugged” radio talk show on May 18, 2021. On it, he claims he never called Covid a hoax or a scam. What he was criticizing was the government’s response to Covid. He also credits hydroxychloroquine for his recovery, as does Rose for her recovery from Covid.

      That said, I too think the death numbers might be inflated by as much as an order of magnitude, depending on how you view Covid deaths (see 12,000 not 200,000). But officially, at this writing (mid-May 2021), there have been close to 600,000 deaths here in the USA. But I am focusing on the suffering of people who don’t die, as that seems to be dismissed by many, especially conservative talk show hosts.

      I listen to many of them and generally agree with much of what they have to say. But on this subject, I am in stark contrast to most of them. Most of them have downplayed the pandemic, downplayed the importance of masks, and now are spreading misinformation about vaccines. But they base their thoughts on the fact that overall, the CV has a 99.5% survivability rate.

      That is true. Only 0.5% of people overall who contract the CV will die from it. But the percentage is far greater for certain categories, such as my dad, being 85 years old. For that matter, most of the deaths have occurred among those 50 or older and/ or who have one or more comorbidities (preexisting health problems). Both of the preceding examples are of people who are in their 70s. At 60, I’m not far behind. Moreover, even those who are younger and who do not have comorbidities can suffer greatly with a CV infection, and I did not want one of them to be me. Given my experience with the flu, that was a distinct possibility.


Proven Mild Vaccine Side Effects


      Compare that possible weeks of suffering with a CV infection with the 1-2 days of mild side effects from the CV vaccines. The most common side effects are well known, soreness at the injection site, fever, body aches, and fatigue. And to be clear, those are the only side effects that are common, and all of the symptoms generally clear up within 24-48 hours.


      Side effects from vaccines are not uncommon, and the COVID-19 vaccine is no exception. The good news is that the effects are usually mild and go away quickly.

      Vaccine reactogenicity refers to the reactions people can get from vaccines. It’s a normal response, and it means that the vaccine — and your immune system — are working well. When your immune systems responds to a vaccine, it can cause local reactions, like redness or pain where the shot was given, or symptoms throughout the body, like a headache or fever.

      Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were associated with some of these side effects in up to 10% of people who got the vaccine. Sometimes the side effects were slightly worse after the second shot.


    Some side effects included:

                Local reactions at the injection site (redness, swelling)
Tiredness (fatigue)
Muscle pain
Joint pain
Vomiting and diarrhea (Good Rx).


      This four-part article is continued at Why I Decided to Get Vaccinated (Refuting Covid Antivaxxers) Part Two.

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See Why I Decided to Get Vaccinated (Refuting Covid Antivaxxers) References.


Why I Decided to Get Vaccinated (Refuting Covid Antivaxxers) Part One. Copyright 2021 by Gary F. Zeolla (

The above article was posted on this website May 21, 2021.

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