Risk of Hospitalization/Death from COVID-19
Quick Summary: People who are vaccinated are much less likely to get sick or die from COVID-19, and most of the people in hospitals with COVID-19 right now are unvaccinated.
The simple fact is that people who are not vaccinated have a much greater chance of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. As a reminder, the symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and chills, cough, difficulty breathing, feeling tired, losing sense of taste and smell, sore throat, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. When you hear about hospitals being full of people sick with COVID-19, most of those people are unvaccinated, because unvaccinated people are the ones most likely to end up sick when infected. According to the CDC, in November 2021, unvaccinated people were 7 times more likely to die from COVID-19. Those aren’t great odds.
Extra COVID Risk Factors
Quick Summary: There are a lot of conditions, like diabetes, depression, and HIV, that can make COVID-19 more dangerous to a person, and LGBTQ+ people are more likely to have them, so we’re more at risk.
Unfortunately, a lot of LGBTQ+ people are already at greater risk from COVID-19 because we have higher rates of what are called comorbidities. These are certain medical conditions that can put us at increased risk for getting severely ill or dying from something else. For example, people with diabetes are at greater risk for getting a heart attack.
COPD, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity are some of the things that put LGBTQ+ people at increased risk from COVID-19. Mood disorders like depression can also put us at risk to get much more sick from COVID-19. Similarly, having HIV puts us at risk to get much more sick or die from COVID-19. Things that reduce the chances of getting sick, like getting vaccinated, are even more important for LGBTQ+ people who have comorbidities.
Long-Term Side Effects of COVID-19
Quick Summary: There are some COVID-19 symptoms that can last months or years.
Long COVID-19 is a common term for long-term symptoms people can experience after having been infected with COVID-19. These can happen to anyone who has had the virus, even if they did not get very sick in the first place. These symptoms can last months or years.
Some of the common long-term symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
Shortness of breath or difficulty with your breathing.
Fatigue or feeling tired.
Brain fog, or difficulty with concentrating.
Mood changes, including anxiety and depression.
Problems with sleep.
Cough that won’t go away.
Loss of smell and taste.
Chest pain and heart palpitations or racing.
Stomach pain and diarrhea.
Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness.
Muscle aches, joint pains, and pins-and-needles feelings.
Changes to menstrual cycles or your periods.
Unknowns vs. Knowns
Quick Summary: There is no evidence that the vaccines are dangerous, but COVID-19, which the vaccines protect you against, is very dangerous!
We’re not going to pretend to know everything about the possible long-term effects of the vaccine. But there is currently no evidence that there are any significant risks from it, and there's no reason to think there will be any beyond a day or two of feeling crummy right after you get it. So far, we only know about one major impact of getting vaccinated: It makes you less likely to catch COVID-19, less likely to get severely ill from it, and less likely to die from it.
Here is what we do know:
Nearly 1 million people have died from COVID-19 and complications from COVID in the United States alone.
Even people who recovered from COVID-19 can still face complications from Long COVID-19, which vary in severity and duration. Some people have still not regained their sense of taste/smell or their prior energy levels.
You can get COVID-19 more than once.
Having had COVID-19 does not protect you as much as being vaccinated does.
Impacts on Fertility
Quick Summary: The vaccines don’t impact fertility or erections, but COVID-19 can cause sterility and impotence, so getting vaccinated is actually the best way to protect fertility and erectile function.
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine (or any currently used vaccine) interferes with or reduces fertility in any way. The COVID-19 vaccine won’t make you sterile or infertile or impotent, nor will it make you less likely to get pregnant or harm your baby if you are pregnant. In fact, the vaccine actually helps with all of those things, because COVID-19 can cause sterility, infertility, impotence, and can harm babies—getting vaccinated makes all of those side effects less likely!
Ending the Pandemic
Quick Summary: If enough people get vaccinated and keep current with booster shots, we can hopefully avoid needing more lockdowns and emergency orders.
We really just want this whole pandemic thing to be over, and that’s the big deal about vaccinations—if everyone does it (except those who are medically unable to do it), we won’t have to worry about another COVID-19 lockdown, or more emergency orders, or more mask mandates, or hospitals being so overwhelmed that you can’t get help if you need it. It’ll probably end up being like flu shots, where you get a booster every year or so (and yes, getting a flu shot every year is a great thing to do!). Getting a booster shot every year isn’t fun (particularly if you’re not a fan of needles or if you have a busy schedule), but it’s a lot better than getting sick or dying, or having family members or friends get sick or die, or having to go through a lockdown again, or having restaurants only able to fill up half of their tables, or having to worry about whether there’ll be trick-or-treating next year. If we all get vaccinated and keep our vaccinations current (by getting booster shots on schedule), we can avoid all of that and get back to living our best lives (or at least trying to live our best lives—even without a pandemic, the world is still kind of a mess).
Protecting our Community
Quick Summary: It’s not just about your health—getting vaccinated helps protect others in our community who are vulnerable, and LGBTQ+ folx have always known how important it is to take care and protect each other.
One thing to keep in mind here is that public health is about being a good neighbor and taking care of the people in your community, not just yourself. Even if you don’t get seriously ill or die from COVID-19, you could pass the disease on to someone who does. Getting vaccinated makes that less likely, so it’s an important way for you to protect your community, including those who are more vulnerable (like folx with HIV or other immune conditions) and folx who can’t get vaccinated because of medical conditions. As trans studies scholar Hil Malatino says, “Trans and queer care labor occurs [in]: the street, the club, the bar, the clinic, the community center, the classroom, the nonprofit, and sometimes, yes, the home” (Malatino, 2020). We, as queer and trans people, have always taken care of each other despite oppression in the world—and we always will. Getting the vaccine is part of that legacy: the time-honored tradition of queer folx taking care of each other. 💪