Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced that all Ohioans 16 and up will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine on March 29. Despite increasing availability, the vaccine being free and research proving its effectiveness, around 1 in 4 Americans still say they won't be getting it. 

Misinformation about COVID-19, and the vaccine, has plagued the internet since early 2020. This conspiratory discourse around the vaccine is doing nothing but prolonging the pandemic in the United States, and it really needs to end. However, it is understandable to have questions and concerns about the vaccination process. The best choice will always be to get information from the CDC and WHO, two resources that offer unbiased, informed advice and answers about COVID-19. 

However, I would like to present some reasons that you absolutely should get the COVID-19 vaccine and why you shouldn't be scared to.

First and foremost, the technology used to make the COVID-19 vaccine is not new. Many people are under the impression that scientists whipped up the mRNA vaccination process during the pandemic. This is completely false. Using mRNA technology to create vaccines for infectious diseases is not a new concept; it's actually been in development for decades. China was also able to share genetic information on SARS-CoV-2 – this particular strain of coronavirus – as soon as it was found, allowing developers worldwide to begin the process of finding a vaccine. Every single vaccine given to the public must comply with a stringent list of requirements from the FDA, and the COVID-19 vaccine is no exception. No stages were skipped, and all necessary tests were done to ensure that no one is being put at risk. Furthermore, developers were able to find vaccine study participants quickly through the use of social media. Since COVID-19 is so contagious, the vaccine's effectiveness was immediately put to the test as many participants were exposed to the virus rather quickly. 

To summarize, don't let any "experts" on Facebook tell you that the vaccine is shady. Listen to the scientists and doctors.

Secondly, I think a lot of the fear surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine stems from not understanding the process behind it. I encourage everyone to read the CDC's explanation of how the vaccine works, but I'll simplify it here. Essentially, the mRNA vaccine contains pieces of genetic material from COVID-19 that teach our own blood cells how to create parts of it, particularly the little "spikes" on the outside of the virus. Our cells produce little "spike proteins" that can only be found in COVID-19, proteins that are harmless on their own, and our immune system is familiarized with how to fight them off. From then on, our bodies will know how to fight off COVID-19, and we will be safe. 

If you have any concerns about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your doctor. I urge everyone to avoid being swayed by misinformation online and start listening to the scientists of the world. Ohioans - we are lucky to have full access to the vaccine beginning March 29. If we want the pandemic to end, if we want a better, safer life again, we all must get vaccinated.