What started out as a trip to get my flu shot turned into a quick, loaded political decision.

Fortunately, by stopping and reflecting, I left politics to the pollies and made my decision based on ethics.

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that anyone under 40 could approach their GP to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, I decided to act. We were not long into Sydney’s second lockdown and already I was feeling the frustration of isolation. I called my GP and was told to book a consultation first before making any appointments for the jab. I decided to make a day of it and booked both my consultation and flu shot as one appointment. Any outing in Covid times is a highlight, am I right?

One week later I sat down in front of my GP. He said, “I know you’re here for your flu shot but given the situation we’re in, I strongly recommend you get the AstraZeneca. What do you want to do?” In the space of 30 seconds I had to decide whether to AZ now, or to Pfizer at some time in the future, date to be determined. The challenge? Putting aside the loaded politics and making an ethical choice.

I am aware I am privileged in being able to make this choice in the first place; I have the means to transport myself to and from the clinic, English is my first language so I can understand the information and make an informed consent. I am fit and healthy and being in a medical clinic, whilst not always comfortable, is not a traumatic experience for me. None the less given the bad rap the AZ vaccine has received, it was a little daunting.

So here are three questions this Millennial asked themself about getting the AZ vaccine now or waiting for Pfizer:

1. Who am I doing this for?

I am fully aware that the Pfizer vaccine is the preferred jab given there are some risks for young people when it comes to taking the AstraZeneca. A few friends have managed to somehow obtain a Pfizer vaccination through connections, either that or some back-alley vaccine deal (letting my imagination run wild). Black market fantasies aside, when it came to my decision making, I chose the non-preferred option as there was plenty of AZ supply to go around. This choice was my contribution to ensuring the small amounts of Pfizer are provided to those who need it most urgently.

Of course, I could wait until there is plenty of supply of Pfizer. But given that medical advice is that the vaccine reduces transmission, the decision to delay can impact the people around me, people who I love the most, such as my partner who is a teacher. I have friends who are immune-suppressed, and family members who are elderly. I feel, the more we all do to suppress transmission in the community, the safer they will be.

2. What does the best outcome look like? In the short term? In the long term?

Recently the government released an advertising campaign to encourage the public to get vaccinated. Most have seen the footage of a young woman, around my age, on a ventilator struggling to breathe and becoming increasingly distressed. There has been a lot of discussion concerning that this advert was aimed at young people, the very people who can’t get hold of the recommended vaccine for this age group. Like many, I find myself repeatedly frustrated about the vaccine roll out.

But there are actions I could do now to play my part in preventing this lockdown from lasting any longer. I have friends in the UK, many of whom have had the AZ vaccine. I want to do everything I can to help get life back to normal. I feel an overwhelming responsibility as a citizen to do what I can to prevent the spread, protect myself and fellow neighbour, and avoid the possibility of passing it on to someone I love. I channelled this frustration into an action that I as an individual can take. My decision to take the AstraZeneca was my way of contributing in some small way to increasing acceptance of a mass vaccination campaign that will improve the lives of the majority in the long term. Whilst it’s reported there are some small amounts of discomfort (fever, body aches and chills for the first 24 hours post vaccine) it’s a short-term pain for a long-term great gain.

3. What are the risks involved?

My anxiety does have its moments and I can catastrophise at the drop of a hat. The human brain likes to predict the future so it can be prepared. In moments where my anxiety flares up, I try and remember it’s just my body trying to protect itself. We tend to focus on the negatives – an easy thing to do during a global pandemic – particularly when combined with media reports of the risks and misinformation across social media.

Negativity bias is rife and it’s easy for us to be more motivated or affected by negative information than positive.

Faced with needing to make a quick decision I relied on the information given to me by my GP in the consultation.

The consultation involves your doctor thoroughly taking you through the potential risks of the AstraZeneca jab. The AZ vaccine has been associated with a rare side effect called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). According to the Australian Government Department of Health website (www.health.gov.au), in every 1,000,000 cases there is a 3.1 chance of TTS for individuals under 50. Given the current situation in Sydney I felt the risks of COVID far outweighed the risks of adverse side effects from the vaccine. Sure, we do not know what the long-term vaccine effects could be, but it was a chance to consider the trade off between facts and knowledge and the assumptions that there might be some long-term effects from the vaccine. For now, I am sticking with my faith and trust in the medical industry. They have been working hard these past 18 months and have been right so far. Plus vaccines are not new, the first recorded use is from the 16th century in China for smallpox.

So what did I choose …

In the end, after weighing up these questions I was stoked to get poked. By the evening I was hit with the prewarned symptoms of fever and body aches but by the time 48 hours had passed, I was fit as a fiddle. I was surprised by how many work colleagues congratulated me saying how brave I was or how proud they were to know a young person playing their part to combat this disease.

One small disappointment.  I didn’t get one of those, “I’ve been vaccinated stickers.” I may be 30 but the six-year-old in me was severely disappointed. Not even a lollipop… so if you choose to get the AZ vaccine… at least bring your own post poke treat.

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What is shaping your decision making around the Covid-19 vaccine?