Vaccination against COVID-19 in the USA: personal experience of a journalist and ForumDaily readers
Beginning April 15, any California resident 16 years of age or older can sign up for the coronavirus vaccine. In most states, including New York, this date came even earlier, and, according to local regulations, in order to sign up for the vaccine, it is enough to live, work or study in this state. According to US President Joe Biden, from April 19, every resident of the country who has reached the age of 16 will be able to sign up for a free vaccination against Covid-19. Meanwhile, the mood in the Russian-speaking diaspora of the United States is different: some are eagerly awaiting a chance to get vaccinated, while others will never agree to such an injection. Let's take a look at the opinions and experiences of Russian-speaking immigrants in the United States during the mass vaccination campaign.
Some immigrants from the post-Soviet space are categorically against vaccination. The reasons are very different. In religious communities of small towns, where there is a high concentration of religious refugees, one can find the most radical conspiracy theories about "chipping by Bill Gates" and "taking on the mark of the Antichrist", and people who sacredly share such views.
Other opponents of vaccination are not so mystical, but they assure that the coronavirus, in their opinion, is slightly more dangerous than the flu, and therefore the side effects from vaccines allegedly outweigh the risks from the disease. Among the "side effects" are often called the rumors repeatedly refuted by scientists about the "effect of vaccines on reproductive functions" and fears that the government will somehow be able to control the vaccinated. These people believe that the disease itself is in many ways, if not an artificially created way of the authorities to suppress human rights, then at least a pretext that the state uses for such suppression. Accordingly, most of these people view the disease and vaccinations in exactly the same way as the government - with distrust and even hostility.
«This whole pandemic story is a soap bubble that is needed to keep the people in fear and submission. I do not deny that people are infected with the coronavirus, but most have already had it and developed immunity without any vaccination. Now the authorities will use this to discriminate against people who do not want to get vaccinated.", - shares his fears Marina from Florida (name has been changed).
The third category of unwilling to get vaccinated is more rational. They do not deny the benefits of vaccinations, but believe that in their particular case, the side effect of vaccines may be more dangerous than the consequences of the disease. Many of them believe that vaccines were created too quickly and did not meet safety requirements, and their long-term effects are still not well understood.
Nevertheless, most of the Russian-speaking community does not succumb to fears and, on the contrary, is struggling to sign up for a vaccination, in which it sees the path to security, freedom, and, consequently, a return to normal life. However, this is not so easy to do. Formally, you can register on special sites created separately for each state. The easiest way to find them is this link: you just need to click on the map on the specific state you are interested in, and you will see all the data on vaccination, the categories of people for whom it is currently available, and the opportunity to sign up.
However, experience shows that at the moment the number of people wishing to be vaccinated is so large that it is difficult to register through a common website in large states, and the easiest way to register for a vaccination is through the websites of specific medical networks. On average, the waiting time from the moment of registration to the injection is a week. In this sense, I was more fortunate: only 3 days passed from the moment of registration to vaccination.
Interestingly, in some states, for example, in California, the number of applicants was very large even when vaccination was formally available only for people over 65 years old, as well as for risk groups due to their profession or health condition. Aghasi Yenokyan from the Bay Area had a medical condition that allowed him to be vaccinated back in mid-March. According to him, it was not possible to enroll through the site, and had to "catch" the referral on a first-come, first-served basis, in the best traditions of Soviet polyclinics.
«The first time I arrived at 8 am and waited in line for an hour before the opening of the medical center. However, there were so many people that there were not enough directions for me. The next day I arrived at 6 am and got directions at 14:30 pm. When I arrived a second time, already at the appointed time, there was no queue, and I was immediately taken to the injection”, - says Agasi.
According to him, despite the fact that officially at that time, vaccination required the presence of serious diseases or a certain job, in practice no one asked those who wanted to be vaccinated for supporting documents.
«The paramedics filled out documents according to their words, and did not even always look at the identity card. Nobody asked for insurance either. Of course, I do not mean to say that people lie and invent diseases for themselves. Many, on the other hand, behaved honestly and directly admitted that their illness was not as serious as state regulations require to receive a first-priority vaccination - for example, that they only have bronchitis or are simply smokers. However, compassionate health workers allowed them to be vaccinated.", - said Agasi.
However, in most cases, registration is still carried out electronically, and insurance data must be entered when filling out the form on the website. However, the authorities assure: in the absence of insurance, the cost of the vaccine can be covered by the relevant federal programs. Identity (ID) is also verified in the vast majority of cases, however, most California vaccination centers do not ask for any other documents proving belonging to a specific category.
«I am really a teacher, I teach private lessons for children, and I have collected a lot of supporting documents: a business license, letters from the parents of my students, and so on. However, no one even began to watch them.", - says Natalia, private tutor.
Vaccinations are carried out both in medical centers and in parking lots, in the literal sense of the word, without leaving the car. However, in this case, doctors recommend waiting at least 15 minutes after vaccination in order to track possible allergic reactions. In the case of vaccinations in parking lots, the 15-minute wait happens automatically - about as long, if not more, people leaving the car have to stand in a first line of cars before they can leave the parking lot.
«I was vaccinated in the parking lot and had to sit in the car for an hour on a first come, first served basis - there were so many people who wanted to", - says Mikhail Poizner.
I also managed to get vaccinated in the parking lot, and the live queue took about half an hour. The system was flawlessly debugged: paramedics approach the approaching car, check the ID and registration lists, and almost immediately give an injection. To do this, you just need to open the car door and roll up the sleeve. The only inconvenience of "parking" vaccination is the need to register separately for the second dose (in my case it was Modern), while during vaccination in medical centers, as a rule, the dates of both vaccinations are determined in advance.
Side effects after vaccination are fairly common. Most have pain at the injection site (sometimes quite severe, but usually lasting no more than a couple of days) and weakness. These were the symptoms I had, however, they did not cause any problems, except for mild discomfort. Some vaccinated people have “cold” symptoms (body aches, fever, and so on), but, as a rule, these symptoms appear after the second vaccination.
«I had a reaction to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and fainted 5 minutes after being vaccinated. It seems to me that this is a feature of my body, because there were many people there, and no one else fell before my eyes. My friend is sure that I had allergic shock (although I am not allergic). The problem is that we cannot choose a vaccine for ourselves, and are forced to put the one that is available at the moment. But nevertheless, these problems are more related to allergy sufferers, ordinary people should not worry. By the way, this does not mean that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is bad. My friend had the same thing in Moscow after Sputnik, only the reaction came after 25 minutes", - says Elena Matskiv from California.
Doctors, in turn, assure: allergy sufferers or people with health problems, it is really better to consult a doctor about which vaccine is the safest for them. In general, the risks from vaccination are minimal. The fact is that in the case of vaccination, the virus itself introduced into the body is harmless. Depending on the types of vaccines, it is either genetically modified, or partially embedded in another carrier virus, or killed or significantly weakened.
Thus, speaking of the side effects of vaccination, we are dealing with the reaction of the own immune system, which reacts to a foreign body and learns to produce antibodies to it. In the case of a real infection, the body is affected by both the extremely insidious coronavirus itself and the possible side effects from an excessive immune response.
In a word, the risks to the body in case of vaccination are significantly reduced, and it is impossible to become infected with a real coronavirus from vaccination. At the same time, doctors do not exclude: infection is possible after vaccination, but the disease in this case proceeds much easier. Overall, scientists assure: Vaccination of billions of people will help stop the transmission of the virus that causes Covid-19 and achieve group immunity, after which we can return to normal life.
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