‘Let’s all protect ourselves and each other’

Huy Le

Editor’s note: This column was submitted to the Texan by a member of the UT community.

I was nervous on the day.

I have been learning about COVID-19 and the virus since day one when the news broke the headlines. Just before the pandemic, I attended a lecture given by Moderna researchers here at UT about the new mRNA technology. I was wonderstruck by it, and I couldn’t believe how much science has advanced in the past decade. It seems like the vaccines were developed way too quickly. However, when I took a step back and examined the evidence behind vigorous clinical trials and how mRNA vaccines work, I began to understand that science has evolved a lot in the past decade, thanks to the work of modeling spike proteins and understanding mechanisms of viruses done by associate professor Jason McLellan’s lab here on our own campus. 

I witnessed others getting the vaccines with happiness beaming on their faces. I decided to volunteer at the clinic and help out with the vaccination efforts, as I believe that through vaccines, we can get out of this pandemic and prevent further mortality among members of our community. 

I took a deep breath.

I entered through a brightly lit hallway and was greeted with such a warm welcome by other volunteers. I sat down at a station where caring nurses and students explained the procedures and possible common side effects to me: sore arm, fatigue, chills, fever, etc. They can sound scary, and you may ask yourself,
“That sounds like symptoms of being sick, and isn’t a vaccine supposed to prevent you from getting sick?” 

However, I learned that those are just normal responses from your immune system hard at work, and they will protect you from COVID-19 in the future.

I received a jab in the arm, and the procedure was done before I knew it. I sat in the observation room for 15 minutes in case of a reaction and to provide updates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about how I felt after receiving the vaccine. 

I got some sore arms for both doses and chills and muscle aches after the second dose. However, I only experienced them for a day, and then I was back to normal.

We are living through history. Many members of our community have suffered from COVID-19, and getting vaccinated is another step in addition to mask wearing, social distancing and washing hands that we can engage in to prevent infection. Getting vaccinated will allow all of us to be back together in the same space again and hug each other (if both of y’all are comfortable, of course).

I miss the stampede at football games, the dine-in experiences, watching movies in the theater, traveling and visiting family. Let’s all protect ourselves and each other by getting vaccinated. I cannot wait for the day that we can be back and meet each other again.

Huy Le is a nursing sophomore from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Houston, Texas.