Editor’s Note: Rai Goyal is a 6th grader from New York City. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.
I’m 12 and I’ve gotten my first Covid-19 vaccine dose. And this is what I’d like to tell my friends:
I was a new sixth grader to our school last year. Looking forward to new friends, play dates on the basketball court and sleepovers, instead we got remote learning; classes where many of us had video screens turned off because we had just woken up and were embarrassed to share our bed head; endless socializing over Roblox and Fortnite, where we knew each other by screen names only. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good video game, but maybe I’d like to know what your real skin looks like – rather than your Fortnite “skin.”
We’ve spent a year locked away. That’s 1/12 of our lives behind closed doors. And, weirdly, you kind of get used to it after a while. When I go outside of the house, I’m a little annoyed about having to wear shoes now. I love my Nike Air Jordans and never really felt this way before. It’s kind of bizarre.
My parents are both doctors who have seen patients throughout the pandemic and hearing their stories has forced me to think about the issue in ways that many other 12-year-olds probably wouldn’t. So I did a little research on the vaccine and gave a presentation to my social studies class on the recently-approved Pfizer vaccine for kids in our age group (12-15 years old). It seems like a no-brainer if taking a couple of shots will allow us to relax the mask-wearing and spend time together IRL (in real life). But there are questions out there about whether Covid-19 is a hoax, whether this is all related to 5G or microchips in our bloodstreams, and more importantly, whether this vaccine is safe in light of the fact that the rest of our life remains to be lived. Will we grow extra limbs? Will we be able to have our own kids someday? Will we get extra good at Fortnite, much to our parents’ annoyance?
Here’s what I think: There are no absolutes in life, or in science. But you have to put your trust in something, and I have deep respect for my doctors, my science teachers and the thinking of people who are studying this disease and associated vaccines. I don’t like shots – at ALL – but I don’t like what our world looks like right now, either. People tell me that you can’t get Covid from the vaccine, and I believe that. My parents both took it early and are doing fine. The rest of the conspiracy theories and ideas about microchips, etc, just don’t make logical sense – and have been proven false. If anyone wants to track me, they can just ping my cellphone (which is always in my pocket). Or they can stick one of those Apple Tiles on my shoe. That seems a lot easier than inserting some kind of tracker into my bloodstream.
Here’s how the Pfizer vaccine works: a small amount of protein called mRNA (which codes for a piece of the “armor” around the virus particles) is injected into your bloodstream. This activates your body to recruit an army of soldiers called “antibodies” to stand guard in case any actual Covid-19 virus tries to infect you. Your immune system’s ability to recognize that armor makes you able to fight off the real disease if it comes your way.
Friends, my advice is this: do your own research from widely trusted sources, listen to the science and take a look at the world around us. We need to bring an end to this pandemic, and if our age group doesn’t take the vaccine, there will always be a significant chunk of the population that continues to pass the virus and create opportunities for mutations. Roll up your sleeves and take that shot, and if your doctor uses a “shot blocker” like mine does, you’ll hardly feel the pinch anyway. Let’s get back to the future.