Josh Bergeron: COVID-19 booster provided protection

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 9, 2022

It didn’t take long after getting my booster shot for COVID-19 that I started feeling bad.

The fatigue hit first. Then, a little cough. Later came chest pains. Altogether, it was a significant reaction, my doctor said. I sought medical treatment just to make sure I was going to be OK and wondered whether I had caught COVID-19 just before getting the shot. My reaction was worse than when I got the second shot in April.

Today, one month later, I have COVID-19. I’m glad that I got the booster.

For many people, getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a choice, not a requirement for work or education. And most people who live in Rowan County have chosen not to get vaccinated — just 42% fully vaccinated at last count. Even if they’ve previously had COVID-19, the unvaccinated have less protection against hospitalization and death than the vaccinated, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published last year.

I don’t intend to preach about why others should get vaccinated, but I am glad I chose to do so. I’m overweight, have a family history of health problems and probably have some undiagnosed issues of my own because I’m generally averse to going to the doctor. My chances are worse for a severe case than a fit, healthy 29-year-old man.

Other treatment methods have worked against COVID-19, including monoclonal antibodies. Being a healthy young adult is good. Critical talk about the COVID-19 vaccines also has flourished in American culture — particularly as more people became eligible to receive it. As a result, there was a time when I felt hesitant about getting the booster.

But the vaccine — getting two doses of the Pfizer vaccine as well as the booster — felt like the best way to protect myself, my family and people I work with. When it was decision time, I couldn’t point to a specific reason why I wouldn’t get it. There was just a general, uneasy feeling.

It’s now public knowledge getting the vaccine doesn’t stop you from getting COVID-19 altogether, but the vaccine has kept an untold number of people out of the hospital and saved countless lives. Regular statistics from state officials and health care systems show sweeping majorities of people in the hospital, intensive care and on life support are unvaccinated. Three of us at the Post tested positive for COVID-19 last week and haven’t experienced severe symptoms. All three are vaccinated.

As I type this, I’m on about day four of symptoms. It’s been two days since I tested positive. I’ve had my fair share of hot tea, rest, water and Mucinex. They have all helped.

Even with those, it’s been hard to just get out of bed some mornings. I’ve sneezed so many times in a row it’s hard to count and I had a slight cough, fatigue, pounding headache, uncomfortable level of sinus and mucus drainage as well as a hard time sleeping at night.

But those are fine symptoms if the alternative is a higher risk of hospitalization or death.

I’ve got two siblings in college and I’m looking forward to seeing their graduation and professional lives that follow. Mostly, I like the rest of my family and would prefer to make more memories with them.

Everyone will get COVID-19 at least once, it seems, but it’s good for my family to know I’ve got a high chance of making it to the other side without hospitalization, lifelong health effects or death. I can be confident in the same.

Even for people firmly against getting vaccinated, the COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call to get healthy — eating right and exercising. That’s what I’ll be doing in 2022.

Josh Bergeron is editor of the Salisbury Post.