When I was 4 years old, I spent a lot of time at the pediatrician’s office for an eye infection. I also had to endure a significant number of shots and a stint in the hospital all because a neighbor boy with dirty fingers poked me in the eye.

I still remember my father leaving the hospital room because he could not handle me crying and screaming. It took three nurses and a doctor to hold me down for the shots they administered. He did not want to see me scared and in pain.

I understand that now. Two years ago, when COVID-19 starting creeping into Cochise County and the national news, while health experts were still trying to figure everything out, I worried about my children the most.

My son watches the news daily and has some very strong opinions of his own about what has occurred over this time. He was also deathly afraid of shots and the long needle.

When I was pregnant with him my doctor highly recommended that I get the flu shot. I was surprised. I did not usually get a flu shot, not because I did not believe in them, more because I felt I was a healthy person.

I did what my doctor told me to do and I have been getting a flu shot every year since to protect myself, but more to protect my children. I do not want to see them sick if I do not have to. Of course, there is no guarantee that my kids will not get the flu, but I hope it will be milder if they do.

As soon as the vaccine was available for my husband and I, we got in line. We did not feel any major side effects. I know it hit others harder. When the vaccine was approved for children 12 and older, I waited a couple of weeks, but my son did not want to wait. He was ready for the pandemic to be over and to have more freedom.

His first shot was very similar to when I was 4 years old. It took me and at least two nurses to hold him down to receive the shot. The second shot, it took one less nurse and he squeezed my hands.

This week he received his booster and only gently squeezed one of my hands with just one nurse to administer the shot. When I told him that I got the appointment for his booster, he was excited. He just wants all of this to be over and for life to go back to normal. Even though he is fully vaccinated, he still wears his mask at school and in public.

You see, at the beginning of this pandemic my son came crying into my bedroom one morning stating, “I don’t want you to die.” I agreed with him, but told him it will happen someday, but we hope not anytime soon.

This hit me hard. I need to make sure I am here for my family for as long as possible.

I started religiously checking the number of Cochise County cases every morning, and still do today. This past week we have had well more than 2,000 positive cases, and that does not include those who tested positive from a home test.

My daughter shared with me that she has only about 10 kids in her classroom this week. Both of my children have been in quarantine over the past year and we had to make an extra effort to get their schoolwork done.

Prior to that it was virtual learning where I became a teacher, a short order cook at lunchtime, the counselor, the schoolmate and mom all rolled into one all while working full time remotely.

It took a lot out of me psychologically, emotionally and yes, I drank a tad bit more wine. I am not a fan of going through that again. I just want this all to be over and done for good.

The Sierra Vista Unified School District board voted 4-0 this week to offer an incentive for staff who are fully vaccinated in the form of five additional sick days.

I cannot speak for the school district, but I feel that eventually, unless you truly live in a bubble, we will all test positive for a variant of COVID-19. I just prefer not to have my children, family members or friends suffer. I want them to only experience mild symptoms and stay out of the hospital and still able to walk on Earth.

The SVUSD staff that desire to take advantage of the incentive will at least know that if they get sick, they have the additional sick days if needed. I am thankful to the staff that decides to get the vaccine and desires to keep our kids as safe as possible. I know not all parents in the district will agree with me, but it is their individual choice.

I have heard many stories, from many individuals, of why they do not get the flu shot or why they are afraid of the vaccine. “The flu shot makes me sick or I don’t know what is in the vaccine.” There are a thousand reasons shared on why not to be vaccinated out there, but there are more than a million reasons why people should.

Unfortunately, those reasons are no longer walking the Earth.

I know quite a few people who cannot get the vaccine due to a medical issue, a religious belief or an allergy. The majority of us have had many vaccinations in our lifetime, especially as children. We had vaccines for the measles, mumps, rubella and the chicken pox. We are also encouraged to keep up to date on our tetanus vaccine. I know, I had to share these vaccine records for my kids when I enrolled them in school.

My husband and I are doing what we feel is best to protect our family, friends and co-workers. We are following the CDC guidelines. We are not living like hermits; we have had some mini-vacations and even traveled home to Wisconsin to see our parents. My daughter plays sports and hangs out with her friends after school. She has received the vaccine as well. We have been lucky; none of us has had anything worse than a sore arm.

Our choice to get the vaccine comes from fear. The fear of losing a loved one. The fear of seeing my children sicker than they should be. The fear of not being able to travel to see my family in Wisconsin. The fear of never seeing an end to this pandemic. We are now not afraid to contract the virus, but hopeful it will be a milder experience.

One positive thing that has come from COVID-19: My kids now have much better hygiene.

No worries about dirty fingers poking someone in the eye.