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How I Embraced Courage & Released My COVID19 Vaccine Fears

Updated: Mar 6, 2022


I was afraid to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Yes, I admit it.

I'm putting myself out there because I know other people are also

afraid, and I want to talk to you.

There was a time in my life when fear used to paralyze me. The discomfort of indecision and anxious thoughts would make me feel stuck.

I personally and professionally understand fear. I know how fear can take valid concerns and transform them into unreasonable doubts that stop you from making positive life-changing decisions.

You would think after working on the frontlines through two COVID-19 outbreaks with the most vulnerable COVID-19 population for almost a year, I would be entirely over fear and jumping to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

But fear can transform a valid concern like, "Is this 'new' mRNA vaccine technology safe?" to absurdity like, "Is this the start of the Zombie apocalypse?"

True thought. Don't judge me.

I follow credible resources on the COVID-19 vaccine, such as allergy & immunologist Akilah Jefferson MD (@akilahjeffersonmd) & Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. So I won't spend time listing facts about the vaccine. Instead, I will discuss dealing with fear or "vaccine hesitancy."


2020 was my Year of Courage, and I learned it by walking through fear.

In 2020:

-I lost my Dad, my greatest cheerleader, in January 2020

-Left seven years in primary care and worked as an independent contractor in February 2020

-Worked on the COVID-19 frontlines through two COVID-19 outbreaks as lead physician in a nursing & rehabilitation center

-Launched Embrace You Weight & Wellness, my holistic weight & wellness program, during the pandemic (August 2020)

-And had much, much more practice overcoming fear


As a spiritual and scientific person, I've learned to confront fear from both perspectives.

Spiritually: "God has not given us a spirit of fear but power, love, and a sound mind." 2 Tim 1:7

Science supports the limiting effects of fear, especially on our thought processing. When we are fearful, our 'primitive' brain takes over. As a result, it's challenging to reason using our higher-level brain function.

I handled deciding whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine like I did when I decided to go to the facility to see my COVID-19 patients during the outbreaks.

  1. Prayer-I needed the wisdom to determine if my fear was valid (i.e., based on truth) or irrational. Prayer also opened the doors of my heart to recall that I have:

  2. Power & Love-I recognized verses that reminded me of God's Love and Power but equally important that I have Divine Power and Love. Once my spirit fills with Power and Love, the fogginess of fear began to subside so I could think with a:

  3. Sound Mind-I listed my fears and reviewed the scientific evidence about mRNA vaccines. They're not new. There's research from as far back as 2003 with the first SARS outbreak. I did the following:

    1. Read many articles on the current* COVID-19 vaccines and the safety tests.

    2. I weighed proven evidence against the alternative theories and my sci-fi based fears of the impending zombie apocalypse (joking).

After this mental and emotional process, I decided to proceed with the vaccine. My original vaccination date was 12/23/20, but the facility ran out of vaccines before receiving my first vaccine. I was disappointed. In hindsight, that was Divine intervention because, at the time, I was tired and working 18-20 hours/day most days.

Over the past two weeks, I've had time to optimize my wellness with:

-Rest by getting 7-9hrs hours of sleep nightly,

-Nourishment by eating plant-based minimally foods, water, and lots of vitamin C and

-Restoration from self-reflection and spending time with my family and friends, even if most of it was virtual.

On MLK Day, January 18th, 2021, I received my first COVID-19 vaccine. It was quick and almost painless. Actually, less painful than my flu vaccine, for sure.

More importantly, I felt relieved.

And hopeful.

As I drove home, I thought of working and living during the pandemic for the past ten months. Indescribable emotion flooded me. I recalled patients I'd cared for who've been isolated from their families for months due to COVID-19 restrictions, precious patients who lost their lives to COVID-19, and my loved ones and millions that are sick with COVID-19 right now.


COVID-19 has impacted us all in so many ways- physically, socially, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

The vaccine is one tool for a healthier future.

But I know that it can be scary to decide to get your COVID-19 vaccine with all the misinformation you hear.

So I won't shame you by saying, "I got my vaccine. So you should"

Or throw blame, "People have died... People can die."

None of this is helpful, nor does it address your fear.


If you are afraid of getting your COVID-19 vaccine, ask yourself:

  1. What's making me afraid? List your specific fears.

  2. Are my fears valid? Meaning: Spiritually, have I prayed about it? What's God telling me? Scientifically have I reviewed evidence from multiple credible sources?

  3. Am I at peace with my decision?

Whatever you decide regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, I pray that you base your decision on faith in the facts, not fear. May you and your loved ones stay safe and well through the pandemic and beyond.

Cheers to your best health wealth!

-Dr. Sylvia

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Dr. Sylvia Gonsahn-Bollie, MD is a dual-board certified obesity expert, Diplomate American

Board of Obesity Medicine, and best-selling author of Embrace You: Your Guide to Transforming Weight Loss Misconceptions Into Lifelong Wellness. Embrace You: Your Guide is Healthline.com's "Best Overall Weight Loss Book of 2022" & Livestrong.com's "Top 8 Weight Loss Books of 2022." Dr. Bollie worked on the COVID-19 frontlines from March 2020 to January 2021. She is currently empowering people with obesity with practical tools to stop yo-yo dieting and create sustainable weight loss & wellness. Dr. Bollie says, "I will never forget the lessons of courage I learned from the brave patients I served during the COVID-19 pandemic. They taught me the true meaning of living a courageous life & empowering others to do the same."


*UPDATE: Even more data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines is available since I originally wrote & published this article in January 2021.

You can stay up to date by following

Is Coronavirus Vaccine Safe? by Johns Hopkins University

2021 New England Journal of Medicine article that looked at vaccine safety


UPDATE: I completed my second vaccine and booster vaccine in 2021—update post to follow soon.

(Updated March 6th, 2022)

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