NORMAN — As Oklahoma starts to see massive vaccination events go unfilled, it’s time to address one aspect of some people’s vaccine hesitancy: Fear of side effects.

There are, of course, a multitude of reasons that people are showing complacency or hesitancy about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. But Vox reports that a massive survey of Americans indicates that 23% of unvaccinated adults are hesitant to get the vaccine, and that 45% of those who would not get the vaccine were worried about side effects.

Having just gone through my own vaccination, and having faced a full day of challenging side effects, I want to say that the process is unequivocally worthwhile.

I got my second Moderna shot a week and a half ago; I was more nervous that round than I was the first time, having heard from acquaintances about difficult day-after experiences.

I’m someone who rarely experiences insomnia, but from 3:30 to just after 5 a.m. the day after the shot, I was awake and intermittently wandering the house, searching for something — Gatorade, pain reliever, an extra blanket for my chills — to ease the feverish feeling.

When I finally woke up for the day, I realized I could barely do anything but sleep. Even reading or watching a show felt like too much. I was fortunate to call in sick for part of the day, waiting until my brain returned from fuzzy and feverish to mildly normal to cover a meeting that night.

The vaccine knocked me out for that full day. But that whole time, I kept returning to one thought: If this is just what the vaccine feels like, what would the actual coronavirus do to me?

I, like two other members of my immediate family, am asthmatic. For the last year I’ve feared the damage COVID-19 could do to my lungs, which are strained by so much as a cold or a bad allergy season.

After my vaccination experience, I know I would rather get vaccinated any number of times and have a single hard day afterward than deal with the possible short and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on my lungs and the rest of my health.

I’ve even had a life-long fear of needles, but thought the vaccination itself was remarkably quick and easy. I was comforted knowing that the side effects were really just my body learning to fight the virus and protect me in the future.

I’m also comforted now knowing that I can move through the world less fearfully and visit my parents without as much concern now that my entire immediate family is vaccinated.

Vaccinations are safe, they’re effective and I, for one, will be getting boosters for as long as I need to to keep myself and my loved ones strong and safe. I hope you’ll join me.

Emma Keith covers Norman Public Schools and the University of Oklahoma for The Transcript. Reach her at or at @emma_ckeith.

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Emma Keith covers the coronavirus pandemic and education for The Norman Transcript, with a focus on Norman Public Schools and The University of Oklahoma. She is a 2019 OU graduate.