Are you getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

By: Ellen Lenox Smith

I think we have almost lost count of how long we have had to keep our distance, wear masks, and try to remain isolated from others. And then after almost 11 months since learning about COVID-19, the news comes that our amazing scientists have created not one but a few vaccines, with two already approved and being distributed across the country.

So, now we all have to decide – do we get the vaccine or not? I live with two incurable conditions – Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) and sarcoidosis. I have major food and medication sensitivities. I have endured 26 surgeries that have actually greatly improved the quality of life now at the age of 70. I have four adult sons, daughters-in-law, and five precious grandchildren I want to see in-person again!

About five years ago, I broke down and got my first flu shot realizing it was time to take the chance and see how I did. To my total shock, I had a slightly sore shoulder at the injection location and that was it – no negative reaction at all. I have continued to get the flu shot each year since.

So here is my decision:

I intend to get the COVID-19 vaccine and will be grateful when my turn comes along. I feel that the effects of having COVID-19 far outweigh any reaction to having the shot. I want to live, I want to see my family again, I want to walk into a store again. I want to travel and sit inside a restaurant for a treat. I want the normalcy of life back, and this seems like the only way I can get on that path. I am willing to take the risk to regain my new normalcy of life.

So, yes, at the age of 70 I will volunteer for the EDS community where so many are understandably afraid to consider having this shot. I am older and have less time left than many of you. I will report back to you so you know how it goes. I will go in with a smile, a positive attitude, and bask in the protection I hope it will provide me.

May life keep you safe, happy, and healthy.

A note from U.S. Pain: As with all vaccines, be sure to discuss risks and benefits with your provider. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit the CDC website.

About Ellen Lenox Smith:

Ellen Lenox Smith has emerged as a leading voice for patients living with pain. Featured in local and national press accounts, Ellen brings a reasoned and compassionate perspective to the need for safe patient access to effective therapies, especially medical cannabis. Currently, Ellen serves as Co-Director of Medical Cannabis Advocacy for U.S. Pain Foundation and is a member of its Board of Directors. She also serves on the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition as secretary, was appointed by the governor to the Adaptive Telephone Equipment Loan Program and is part of the Oversight Committee for the Compassion Centers in RI. She is also active with the EDS RI support group. Prior to patient advocacy, Ellen was a longtime middle school social studies teacher. She has been married for 46 years and is the proud mother of four adult children and grandmother to five grandchildren. She also is the author of two books, an organic gardener, and was previously a master swimmer and high school swim teacher.