​Braving Risk and Reward with the COVID-19 Vaccine

Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on January 31, 2021 # COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccineMy husband Geoff, also a T7 paraplegic, received his first COVID-19 vaccine dose this week; he asked for it in his leg instead of his arm, which they accommodated since he can’t feel his legs. There are more than a few reasons why we jumped at the chance to have him vaccinated sooner than later. The risks were higher for him NOT to get vaccinated, therefore the decision was super easy to make-- hardly a decision at all, really. One, most importantly, any kind of respiratory infection is hard for him, given his lack of abdominal muscles needed to cough productively. Secondly, getting over colds or any kind of sickness really takes more time for him, but we cannot say he is immunocompromised or at any further risk than someone with the ability to walk. Fortunately, and thankfully, he is a pretty healthy dude, and I’m grateful for the fact that his job keeps him primarily outside, even in winter as a professional skier and training instructor. Lastly, if Geoff was to be contact- traced and need to quarantine for 10-14 days or even longer if someone in our immediate household tested positive, he would be unable to work. Like many American families struggling financially in the pandemic, he only is paid when he works.

At this rate, New Hampshire (NH) teachers like me are looking at February or early March for our vaccinations, but I’m fairly certain with all of our protocols and safety measures we are taking at school that I likely won’t be the one to transmit it to my family. Fingers crossed. We are not eating indoors anywhere, and beyond grocery shopping and the occasional trip to Rite Aid, which I do solo, leaving the children and Geoff home or in the car, and social time with friends and family is primarily spent out of doors, either chatting by our winter fire pit or skiing at Loon Mountain or our local rope tow. But even in our little towns in the mountains of northern NH, our numbers are spiking for the first time since the pandemic began, closing our schools briefly and even quarantining our daughter due to a close contact at school right before the holidays. She tested negative, but keeping her separate from Geoff and our son Carver was more than a little difficult. But at least she is almost 10 and understands how the virus is spread, therefore great about wearing her mask and taking a break from wrestling her brother.

We visited some friends recently outside who expressed anxiety over taking the vaccine, and I listened carefully as good friends do. I shared that we would never tell others what to do, except maybe our parents-- but luckily, they are also so excited about their chance at the vaccine hopefully before this even comes to publication--but that TAKING the vaccine is the ONLY choice for our family. The reward far outweighs the risks involved, and I’m not really a risk-taker. In fact, there is risk involved pretty much in everything we do, even when we least expect it. Last year on New Year’s Day, I almost died just tossing my Christmas tree over an embankment across the street from our house. Wearing only jeans and sneakers, I did not give my personal safety a second thought. Unfortunately, I also tossed myself with the tree, sliding, or luging really, down an icy, steep section unable to stop. These steep forest conditions are also what makes it an ideal location for Christmas tree purging, back to the ground, so to speak. Fortunately, I did not injure myself, but I slid long enough that real panic ensued. When the sliding stopped, I realized how bad of a situation it could have been, especially given I had no phone with me. It would have been hours before my family worried when I didn’t return to pick my kids up from skiing. By the time they traced my last steps, they would have followed the pine needle carnage of the tree down the driveway, across the road and down the mountainside. They would also have found my frozen body hours later had I been injured as I had only intended to toss the tree, not my entire body.

The COVID-19 vaccine is NOTHING like luging down a steep section of ice wearing jeans and sneakers. Scientists and medical professionals have empirically proven that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe. The COVID-19 vaccine is going to make our world one where we can hug and shake hands again. I want to visit inside and have dinner parties and friend sleepovers and swim in indoor pools. Instead of taking out, we will be able to eat inside a restaurant. The COVID-19 vaccine will help to sustain our local businesses and our economy and let people work again safely and keep our schools open and in-person for our kiddos, because, well, now more than ever, we really need to be LIVE and in-person-- for everything that matters most.

Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta, who are 10 and 9. Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.