The Covid-19 vaccines significantly reduce your chances of falling ill with the disease.
Despite this, some people have expressed hesitation about getting jabbed–and not just the misinformed anti-vaxxer community.
Queerty offers five reasons all get men should consider it.
1. You don’t want to get Covid-19 if you can avoid it
There remains a common misconception that Covid-19 is just like bad flu. This is not true. There is a very real risk of serious illness and death if you are elderly, seriously overweight, or have an underlying health condition.
If your symptoms are not life-threatening, you can still experience what has been dubbed “Long Covid”: Effects from the virus that can last for weeks or months beyond the initial illness.
Some research suggests around one in five people who test positive for Covid-19 have symptoms for five weeks or longer, with one in ten having symptoms for 12 weeks or more. A study of Covid patients in Wuhan, China, found 76% reporting at least one persistent symptom after six months.
These long-Covid symptoms include fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations, joint or muscle brain, or a general ‘brain fog’ and difficulties thinking straight. More unusual symptoms included an altered sense of smell.
Thankfully, many others will experience only a mild illness and may have no symptoms whatsoever. However, while you have the infection, you run the risk of passing it on to others, some of whom may become seriously ill.
2. You needn’t worry about the vaccines interacting with PrEP or HIV medications
This may be a concern that has crossed the mind of some in the LGBTQ community, but it’s not based on any data.
Elliot Raizes, MD, a Senior Medical Advisor for the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, told Queerty, “Persons with HIV, including those who were taking HIV medications, were included in the vaccine trials for both Pfizer and Moderna products. Further analysis of those trials will be needed but there is nothing notable about the vaccine properties to suggest potential interactions with antiretroviral medications, including those used for pre-exposure prophylaxis [PrEP].”
“There’s always going to be some risk in any vaccine, even vaccines that have been out there for ages,” says Dr. Will Nutland to Queerty. Nutland the co-founder of PrEPster and also an Honorary Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“But there’s no evidence to suggest that those of us who are using PrEP, or people who are using HIV meds, are going to have any interactions [with the vaccine]. In some of the studies, they have actively recruited people living with HIV as part of the cohorts.”
In fact, both Pfizer and Moderna included some people with HIV in their vaccine studies. It’s worth pointing out that none of the vaccines contain live viruses, and therefore pose no threat to anyone with a compromised immune system.
3. Although developed quickly, the vaccines went through rigorous trials and testing
Although the vaccines approved for use have been developed at speed, that doesn’t mean corners have been cut. According to the CDC, the vaccines currently available in the US are “highly effective at preventing COVID-19.”
Kevin L. Winthrop, MD, MPH, of the Oregon Health & Science University, told Healio he could understand why some people are hesitant about having a new vaccine: “I am trying to reassure my patients and friends that even though the speed of these development programs is unprecedented if you look at the types of steps that were taken, they are the same steps that would be taken in any vaccine development program, from animal studies to early human volunteers, through phase 1, 2 and 3 studies of huge magnitude. They just did them more quickly because it’s a pandemic.”
Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of the FDA, says, “FDA has had an active role throughout the development process of a vaccine, from the preclinical animal studies all the way through the human clinical studies … We won’t cut corners on the evaluation of a vaccine.”
All medicines have some side effects, and some have been noted with the vaccines, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. The CDC says side effects can include fever, chills, headache, swelling, or tiredness, “which are normal signs that your body is building protection.”
Severe reactions are extremely rare but talk with your healthcare provider if you have a history of allergic reactions to any medications.
4. If we don’t beat COVID soon, expect plenty more gay bars to shutter
Running successful gay bars before the pandemic was already a challenge, thanks to the gentrification of “gayborhoods” and competition from dating apps, but the pandemic has pushed many over the edge.
Dozens of businesses have shuttered and your local LGBTQ scene may well look different when life returns to normal – something you might not appreciate until lockdown restrictions ease.
Of course, if saving gay bars – vital community spaces whether you use them or not – doesn’t move you, bear in mind it’s not just bars at stake here: it’s the whole economy. Theaters, movie theaters, restaurants, cafés, gyms… many businesses are facing an uncertain future. The more people who get vaccinated, the quicker restrictions on daily life will be lifted and the economic recovery can begin.
5. You can start dating again and meeting men for sex once restrictions are lifted!
Yes, we know the pandemic hasn’t stopped some of you (we see you!). But many others have curbed their sex life, holidays abroad, and put weddings and other plans on hold. The greater the number of people who get vaccinated, the quicker life can – hopefully – return to something like it was before the pandemic.
And once restrictions are lifted, you’ll be able to jet off to that gay festival in Puerto Vallarta without fearing you’ll end up being shamed by @GaysOverCovid!