A Thanksgiving dinner is displayed on a table in Concord, N.H., on Oct. 22, 2012. Credit: Matthew Mead / AP

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I’m 20 years old with no underlying health issues. I also tested positive for COVID-19, twice.

The first time I got COVID, it was spring 2020. Unbearable flu-like symptoms, achiness all over, and migraines put me out for a week. But feeling ill was nothing compared to seeing my dad hospitalized on a ventilator for five weeks from COVID, being unable to visit him, not knowing if he would make it.

The second time I got COVID was this September. Though I wasn’t as physically ill, I was sick to my stomach with dread. Who had I seen, and possibly infected, in the time that I was unknowingly positive? That feeling was worse than any illness.

As the holidays approach and we are finally able to gather with our loved-ones again, I’m ecstatic. But I am only excited because I know my whole family is vaccinated. Not only are we protected against the virus, we are protected from unintentionally harming one another and disrupting each other’s lives with the reality of a COVID-19 infection.

If you are not protected by the vaccine yourself, I believe you are also not protecting the people around you. Get vaccinated for them.

Katharine Barrett

Public health intern

U.S. Public Interest Research Group