Vaccinations Are Like Seat Belts

Some people call them vaccinations.

Others call them shots.

Some insist there’s a difference between the two terms.

Others use them interchangeably.

Whatever the terms’ meanings, a particular first grader once had a bad reaction to a particular vaccination or shot.

So he perhaps more than most would have been justified in being skeptical of a COVID-19, or Corona Virus Disease 2019, vaccination or shot.

Nevertheless, the decision was easy.

Was another bad reaction possible? Of course it was.

But the fact that a person had a bad reaction to one vaccination or shot doesn’t necessarily mean that the same person will have another bad reaction to another vaccination or shot.

Especially when many years have passed since the bad reaction. After all, one’s biochemistry changes over time.

Those who have developed and then grown out of allergies to, say, pollen, understand this. Yes, a pollen allergy is often less serious than a bad reaction to a vaccination or shot. Yet the point is that, over time, one’s biochemistry changes.

Besides, the one-time first grader figured, vaccinations or shots are like seat belts.

It’s theoretically possible – though highly unlikely – to be injured, even seriously injured, by a seat belt.

Yet that never stops him from wearing a seat belt.


Because a seat belt is far more likely to prevent than cause an injury, including a serious injury.

Even for an individual who was once injured by a seat belt.

With this understanding, wearing a seat belt is an easy call.

Likewise, protecting himself from COVID-19 was an easy call for the one-time first grader.

Will some others assess this differently? Yes. Should some others with different health histories assess this differently? Yes. They can talk with their friendly neighborhood health professionals and form their own opinions.

Yet, again, for the one-time first grader, protecting himself from COVID-19 was an easy call.

And, yes, he had common flu-like symptoms about 12 hours after the second dose. They were largely gone by the next morning. Especially given what the vaccination or shot can prevent, this reaction was merely a nuisance.

Just as wearing a seat belt can be a nuisance until one gets use to it. Then it can be uncomfortable not to wear a seat belt.

So what happened to the first grader?

One day after school, he received a vaccination or shot that many have received without significant reaction.

The morning afterward, he didn’t feel quite right yet went to school anyway.

By mid-morning, he had his head on his folded arms on his desk.

Noticing this, his teacher took him by the hand and walked him to the school nurse’s office.

The nurse took his temperature, and he read the thermometer and saw he had a high fever.

Later, in addition to generally feeling ill, he had an upset stomach and did what first graders do when they get upset stomachs.

Then he choked and briefly stopped breathing. His father cleared the airway and brought him back.

The family’s pediatrician was astonished. In all of his professional years, he’d never seen such a reaction.

That reaction was the proverbial one in a million, perhaps one in many million.

This first grader happened to be the one.

That didn’t deter him, years later, from protecting himself from COVID-19.

In short, he weighed possible benefits and their likelihood against possible risks and their likelihood.

For him, it was an easy call.

Just as wearing a seat belt is.

Is all of the information about benefits and risks available? No. Whatever the origin of the COVID-19 virus, much uncharted territory remains.

As for protecting yourself, you decide for yourself, gentle reader.

You decide.

Randy Elf was the first grader.



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