• COVID and the Endurance Athlete Part II – The Decision to Get COVID Vaccinated or Not

    The decision to get vaccinated

    For full disclosure, I decided to get vaccinated and I received the vaccine as soon as I was eligible, which was March 8, 2021. I received the Johnson and Johnson “one and done” dose. I had no adverse reaction to the vaccine.

    I can admit that my decision to get vaccinated was certainly influenced by fear. Those fears included:

    • Getting COVID and getting really sick leading to…
    • Hospitalization that could lead to…
    • Getting put on a ventilator, or...
    • Ending up with long-term pulmonary or cardiac damage, or…
    • The possibility of COVID leading to neurological damage.

    Before deciding to get vaccinated, I sought out information about the vaccine. I researched online medical sites and news sources I trusted. I read posts from professors and doctors I trusted. I listened to information that my friends found about vaccine safety and COVID risks. Additionally, I looked at information that questioned vaccine safety. I like to examine both sides of the argument.

    I made my decision based on my personal valuation of estimated benefit vs risk.

    The decision to not get vaccinated

    Just like my decision to get vaccinated was based on my trusted sources, others decided not to get vaccinated because their trusted sources were telling them not to get vaccinated. I wanted to know their logic.

    Just like me, they relied on information received from doctors, pharmacists, family, friends and news sites they trusted. Their decisions were also based on fear. Some of their fears and logic I found include:       

    • Unknown long-term side effects of the vaccines.
    • Adverse reactions to the vaccines.
    • Serious health complications caused by the vaccines.
    • Mistrust of government.
    • Training and performance might be negatively affected by the vaccine side effects.

    What the future holds

    Notice I haven’t included any statistics here, because early in the vaccination period, statistics weren’t available. For example, what is the probability that you will have an adverse reaction to the vaccine, versus ending up with any of the items in the first list?

    The CDC notes that serious side effects to the vaccines occur in 1 or 2 people in a million. On the other hand, the risk of serious illness due to COVID is much higher. In a study in the US through May of 2020 showed that 14 percent (14 people in every 100) were hospitalized, 2 percent (2 people in every 100) were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), and 5 percent died (5 people in every 100.) The risk of severe illness varied by age and underlying health issues.

    COVID case fatality rates have certainly improved over time, but for me personally, a 2-percent death rate is still high.

    I suspect the only things that will change someone’s mind about the safety of the vaccine versus the risk of illness will be a change in information coming from a trusted source. There may be sources that will be antivaccine no matter what. Other sources may change recommendations based on people they know getting vaccinated without bad reactions, a loved one becoming very ill or dying from the COVID virus, or restrictions in freedoms for those that are unvaccinated.

    I all cases, decisions of the past are just that and nothing can be done to change them. The decisions we, all of us, make in the future are what matter now.

    Next up, how to begin training after having COVID.

    COVID and the Endurance Athlete Part I





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    • Jay McLaughlin says...

      I got hit by a car riding my bicycle training for a sprint triathlon in 1988. I was wearing a helmet. I was in a coma for 5 days. I got the vaccine in February this year. 33 years after my accident I still wear a brace on my leg because of the nerve damage. I’ve worn that brace while I trained for and finished eleven (11) 140.6 mile triathlons in eleven years since that accident. I don’t know the precise numbers, but my guess is this vaccine is less dangerous than triathlon training.

      On July 21, 2021

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