I Got the Vaccine to Protect My Mom and Help End the Pandemic

Social media told me the vaccine was dangerous, but my mom’s illness and my own research convinced me to take my shot.

by Sirsy Galarza

My mother has COPD, which stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It’s a terrible respiratory condition: She has trouble walking up steps and sometimes uses an oxygen tank.

That made the pandemic extremely scary for my family and me. To protect my mom, I hardly ever went outside, and when I did, I wore two masks and practiced social distancing.

But this past March, after a year of the pandemic, my mom was admitted to the hospital twice for respiratory problems. She didn’t have Covid, but when she got home, she told me that the doctor told her that with all her health problems, if she got Covid chances are she wouldn’t make it. Hearing that, I felt worried and scared.

When she was admitted the second time, they vaccinated her with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. (That is a “one-and-done” shot; with Moderna and Pfizer, you come back a few weeks later for a second shot.) I had heard of a few cases where people didn’t react well to the J&J shot, so I was worried it might harm her. But she is well.

Before that, I was iffy about anyone getting the vaccine, including my mom. TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook had memes and videos saying the vaccine can kill you. But I also saw many TV commercials saying that everyone should get vaccinated to protect themselves and help end the pandemic. The commercials emphasized that the vaccine is free and effective.

It didn’t add up. After my mother got the vaccine, I did a ton of research on the different vaccines. I read articles and watched YouTube videos from reputable sources. The most convincing evidence to me was an article detailing the statistics about the effectiveness of the vaccine. I also was persuaded by how many people were getting it, including famous people of all backgrounds encouraging others to get vaccinated.

I asked people I knew who’d been vaccinated about their experience, including my teachers and some of my friends and cousins. I asked them how they felt afterwards and how effective they think the vaccine is. My friends and cousins said they were fine after getting the shot and added that the best research shows that it’s safe and effective. My teachers encouraged me to get vaccinated and said this will help us all get back to normal.


I know a few people who refuse to get vaccinated. One friend in particular does not believe in vaccinations at all and never got the flu shot either. He said that one should not inject those pathogens into their system because he believes they can harm you (even though there is no evidence of that).

I didn’t argue with him because at the time I was still deciding whether to get it myself. I was open to hearing different opinions.

But everything I heard and read convinced me that I should get the vaccine, to keep my mom safe and to help end the pandemic. So a week ago, a month after my mom got her shot, I decided to get the vaccine as soon as possible. My research suggested that even if I were to get Covid, it wouldn’t be as serious if I was vaccinated. Everybody in my household arrived at the same decision. My older brother and his girlfriend got the Pfizer, and my twin brother and I got the Moderna.

After the first shot, my arm hurt. I couldn’t put pressure on it or lift it without it hurting. After about two days, though, it was good.

I get my second shot in a few weeks and I look forward to going out more. I want to enjoy the last few months I have in the city before I go off to college in Albany. Now that colleges are mandating vaccination, I’m especially glad I already got my first dose.

I also feel less scared about my mother getting really sick. I just want this pandemic to be over and I feel good that I’m contributing to ending it.

Click here to read another teen story about why they got vaccinated.

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Discussion Questions

  1. At first, Sirsy gets conflicting messages about the vaccine. What does she do to help clear up any misinformation? Why is it important to get our information from reputable sources like Sirsy does?
  2. What kind of benefits will Sirsy be able to experience once she gets her second shot?
  3. How does Sirsy’s decision to get the shot show her ability to be responsible and care for others?
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