Everything You Need to Know
About COVID-19 Vaccines
About COVID-19 Vaccines
What’s in Here?
Quick Summary: This is a large document, but you can just read what you need to.
Like the title says, this is a document with information about COVID-19 vaccines that will help you make an informed decision about whether you want to get one, and if so, where and how to get one. There’s a lot of stuff here, and you don’t need to read it all. Feel free to skip directly to whatever part answers the questions you’re interested in.
Who is This For?
Quick Summary: This page is for LGBTQ+ folx who want info about COVID vaccines.
If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community and not sure whether you really need a COVID-19 vaccine (or you’re not sure you trust the vaccines or the people telling you to get them), this page is for you. We’re here to help you make sense of all of the confusing, contradictory information you’ve probably seen on social media, in the news, or heard from friends and family.
Who Wrote This?
Quick Summary: This was written by a group of LGBTQ+ folx with expertise in medicine and science who are part of Queering Medicine.
This page was created by a team of folx at Queering Medicine (QM), which is a small, grassroots organization of LGBTQ+ people in the Lansing, Michigan, area who work to improve health outcomes for the LGBTQ+community in and around Lansing. You can read more about us a little further down the page.
Importantly, we’re not part of the government or the health department, we’re not funded by Big Pharma, and we’re not going to pressure you into doing anything. We just happen to have expertise when it comes to dealing with science, health, and medicine, and we’re using it to try to change those systems (because doctors, medical researchers, and healthcare systems frequently discriminate against LGBTQ+ folx and sometimes create barriers to keep us out).
We also try to share accurate and helpful information and resources with our community so that we, as LGBTQ+ people, can make decisions about our own health without just having to listen to people who don’t understand or care about us. We’ve spent the past 20 months keeping up on the latest COVID-19 news, research, and data, and now we’ve put together this guide to help you understand COVID-19 vaccines. We hope you find it helpful and that it answers any questions you might have!
(And sorry this page is so long! If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, it may seem like we’re just making it worse! We promise we’re going to make everything as straightforward as possible, and there’s a list of links to different sections a little farther down on the page, so if you’re looking for something specific, you can just jump right to it. We wrote this for you because we care about you.)
Are you cisgender and/or heterosexual? Or are you not sure what we're talking about here? If you'd like a look at what LBGTQ+ folx often go through, click here to see a video that shows just what we experience. (Content Warning: this video depicts deadnaming and queer/trans antagonism.)
Your Fears Are Valid
Quick Summary: Healthcare systems, doctors, researchers, governments, and drug companies have been discriminating against us (LGBTQ+ people) for a long time, so it’s very reasonable for us to distrust them.
LGBTQ+ people have not had the best time in the United States or in the dominant cultures that colonized the country. For hundreds of years, queer and trans identities have been socially shunned at best and made illegal at worst—and we’re still fighting some of those battles today. The same is true of healthcare. Doctors and medical researchers have treated us badly, to say the least. Looking back at the history of medicine and LGBTQ+ people, we have been treated as if there’s something wrong with us, and even a lot of the ways we categorize our identities today comes from how the medical community used to label us (in their attempts to “cure” us so that we wouldn’t be different from what they wanted us to be). There have been centuries of people in healthcare experimenting on us, treating us as if we were sick, ignoring our real needs, and refusing to even talk to us.
LGBTQ+ folx suffered and continued to suffer because medicine does not always know what to with our identities, our bodies, or our lives. Most modern healthcare comes from medicine developed for cisgender, nondisabled, heterosexual white men—so anything that isn’t that identity/body is usually misunderstood or mistreated. Healthcare doesn’t even know how to approach treating our basic healthcare needs a lot of the time—either because they fixate on our identities, which might not have anything to do with our ailments, or because our identities make them outright hostile.
And don’t even get us started on how all levels of government have played a hand in how LGBTQ+ folx are treated today. LGBTQ+ folx have every right to mistrust pharmaceutical companies, too, not least of which because they have made life difficult for folx living with HIV by continuously driving up the cost for antiretroviral drugs. This has been ongoing since the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and Big Pharma has definitely neglected and profited off the lives of LGBTQ+ folx, Black and Latinx folks, and those living at the intersections. Put simply, major parts of our world discriminate against LGBTQ+ folx, so we have had to learn to take care of each other. Now with the pandemic, the time has come for us to take care of each other again.
Quick Summary: A lot of people are sharing incorrect information about COVID-19 and the vaccines.
There are a lot of people who are sharing their perspectives on COVID-19 and vaccines. A lot of people are scared (for good reasons!), and a lot of people are trying to scare others (for bad reasons!). Many of those people are pretty convincing, even when they’re wrong (not wrong for being afraid, but wrong about the medical details of things like how the vaccines work, how effective they are, and what COVID-19 does to the body). If you'd like to know more about this and how to spot it, see our handy guide here.
Why Trust Us?
Quick Summary: Queering Medicine is a grassroots organization that does a bunch of work to help LGBTQ+ folx get access to better health care and information. We’re not funded by Big Pharma, and we don’t work for the government.
That’s where we (Queering Medicine) come in. We’re not here to try to scare you, we’re not here to order you around, and we’re not going to tell you that you should totally trust Big Pharma or the government or random doctors. We’re not asking for donations or trying to sell you anything (we don’t even have swag with our logo on it!). We’re LGBTQ+ folx who live and work in the Lansing area (yes, we’re real people—you can even find some mildly flattering pictures of us here) who just want to help keep others in our communities safe, healthy, and happy.
We have expertise in science, public health, and medicine, so we’re reading the reports and the data and the analyses, and we’re sharing our findings with you. Not everyone can be an expert on all of this stuff, so those of us who are have a responsibility to help others make sense of it. Some of us work in public health, some of us are medical students, and some of us are just people with a passion for this work. All of us are LGBTQ+, all of us are activists, and all of us want to keep our community healthy (specifically, LGBTQ+ folx in the community—there are already lots of other people who are focused on cis-het people’s health). None of us are funded by Big Pharma, we don’t make money from you getting a COVID-19 vaccine, and we’d honestly rather companies like Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson didn’t make a dime off of this pandemic, too.
If you haven’t heard of Queering Medicine, here are some examples of what we do so you can decide whether to trust us (it’s easy to say “just trust us!” but it’s harder to actually be trustworthy—if you trust us, do it because of our actions, not just because we tell you to):
We spent a year writing a detailed guide for doctors, healthcare providers, and others to update their forms and intake processes so they’d be inclusive of LGBTQ+ folx. Why? Because we’ve had to fill out forms that literally didn’t include our gender as an option. We’ve had doctors assume that we’re straight and start asking questions about potential partners based on that. We’ve been deadnamed in waiting rooms. None of those things should ever happen, and our guidelines directly address those and many more issues. You can find our guidelines here, and feel free to send them to any doctor or office that you think should be using them!
We made a directory of doctors and healthcare providers who are LGBTQ+ affirming because we’re tired of worrying about finding a doctor who isn’t going to be weird about the fact that we’re not straight and/or cisgender or who literally doesn’t know how to treat us because we’re LGBTQ+ (or tries to blame random health issues we have on us being LGBTQ+, even when it’s totally unrelated). More importantly,we know we’re not alone.
After talking to someone worried about binding their chest the wrong way, we wrote a guide for how to do chest binding safely.
There’s a group of community organizations working with the local health department to understand how racism impacts health, and we’re a part of that group. Our goal is to ensure that they’re including LGBTQ+ folx and that they understand that being BIPOC and being LGBTQ+ aren’t separate—we’re whole people, and for those of us who are BIPOC, our health and lives are impacted by being BIPOC and being LGBTQ+.
But most importantly for people like you who are looking for information about COVID-19 vaccines, we’ve spent the past 20 months keeping up on the latest COVID-19 news, research, and data, and then summarizing it for people who aren’t experts or who don’t have time to sort through it all. It’s not just pandemic stuff, either: We include news about racism, which is also a public health crisis. You can find all of that in the Public Health Crisis Updates that we post weekly here or get the super-simple summaries on our Facebook page here.
Hopefully that’s enough to convince you that we’re real people who really care about your health, who understand some of the big issues with healthcare that are important to you, and who have some expertise when it comes to medical things.
Page Updates and Where to Send Questions
Quick Summary: We’re going to keep updating this page with new info, and you can email us if you have questions about anything.
We’re going to be updating this page for the next few months with new information and data and anything else important. If there’s stuff in here you’re confused by, if you think we left something out, or if you have any other questions, you can email us at email@example.com and we’ll do our best to help!
Below are the topics that we cover! Click or tap the text to read more about that topic: