HOW SOCIAL MEDIA COULD HAVE PREVENTED ME FROM TAKING MY COVID-19 MAKLATE? AN EXPERIENCE WORTH SHARING
I was as skeptical as most Sierra Leoneans regarding the COVID-19 vaccine when it was first introduced in May 2021. I knew the benefit of the vaccine; it would protect me from getting serious sickness from the deadly COVID-19 virus but I was also scared of the side effects.
Social media didn’t make it any easier. There were many articles and posts from different people in different countries regarding the vaccine and its effects, one of which is a blot clot that could be fatal. There were even trends on TikTok – a popular social media tool for short videos – where people would vibrate or move uncontrollably claiming that it was the aftermath of the vaccine intake that led to their vibrating. It was scary. As a media student, I was carried away by those videos for fear that the same faith waits for me if I dare take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Funnily, many of those people had not even taken the vaccine yet. Such incidents and so many more created fear in people, including myself. So, I held back on taking the COVID-19 vaccine. One thing that saved me and my fears was that when the vaccine was first delivered to Sierra Leone, it was only available for people who were 30 years of age and above – a threshold which I didn’t meet.
Months later, a second batch of vaccines were supplied for people who were 18 and above. At this point, I was the only one in my family who met the requirements but had not taken the vaccine yet. I carefully observed each family member of mine after their own vaccinations and didn’t notice any serious side effects besides fatigue. This erased all my fears regarding the vaccine and I made up my mind to get mine.
On the 9th of November 2021, I finally decided I was going to get vaccinated. I was advised to eat enough food and take paracetamol before ggoing to the vaccination site, so I did.
On reaching the vaccination center at King Herman road in Freetown, I was a little nervous. I went to the roomwere half a dozen people sat waiting for their turn to be vaccinated. “I am here to take my COVID-19 vaccine,” I told the Ms Ballay Conteh one of the social mobilizers I met at the entrance.
With a beam of smile, she said “Please sit over there and when it’s your turn, we will call you. Meanwhile, I am glad young people are really turning up to take the COVDI-19 vaccine,” emphasized Ms Conteh.
She seemed thrilled as she took me through the process of getting the vaccine, it’s benefits, the different types of vaccines available and even cleared up some common myths about the vaccine. “I have taken my full doses of the COVID-19 vaccine,” She brought out her vaccination card to show me that she had been fully vaccinated.
When it was my turn, they issued a form to me and asked to see one of the nurses to get my own dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. “We have Pfizer, Sinopharm, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines, which one would you prefer?” the nurse asked me.
I chose the Pfizer vaccine. I didn’t know why. It sounded the easiest among the three I was able to pronounce. The nurse assured me that I would only feel a pinch and we would be done in no time. In less than a minute, I had received my first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
If I hadn’t watched any of those fake videos on social media, I could have long protected myself from serious sickness from COVDI-19. I feel relieved to have finally gotten my first dose. I can’t wait to get the second dose so I can be fully vaccinated.