HONOLULU(KHON2) — COVID-19 has killed more than 2 million people around the world as of Friday, Jan. 15. The only real protection from the virus — other than wearing protective masks, hand washing and social distancing — is the vaccine.

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More than 56,000 Hawaii residents have already taken the vaccine, but some are still hesitant to get the shot even with the push for vaccinations.

Honolulu resident Cindy Madera said, she was initially afraid to get vaccinated because there is still so little information about the long-term effects of the vaccine — but changed her mind after a number of her friends got it without any problems.

“Let’s put it this way, I’m anti-flu shot. I hear so many bad things about the flu shot. I never took that. So I kind of thought that this vaccine would be similar, but actually, it’s apples and oranges. And the pandemic is dangerous. I live with an elderly parent, so I thought it would be the best thing for me,” Madera said. “Considering what I’m watching on the new with the pandemic, I urge everybody to take (the vaccine). But I don’t think anybody should be forced to take it — it shouldn’t be mandatory.”

Dr. Kalani Brady, of the University of Hawaii at Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine, said there are more pros than cons to getting vaccinated.

“The pro is that you don’t die of COVID-19. We still have no other protection possible. And hospitals are at capacity practically in Hawaii, and we’re powerless in treating these patients…(The vaccine) gives us 95% protection if you take both doses. That includes both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine,” Brady explained.

Most people do not experience any side effects, according to the Department of Health (DOH), but some may report a headache, fever or a sore arm from getting the shot.

“I didn’t feel a thing,” Madera said. “The shot was a breeze and a couple of hours of pain. They forewarned me, (it would hurt) maybe a day or two, but a couple of hours and I was fine. forgot all about it.”

Madera said, she will take her second dose next week.

Brady got both of his shots. He said, he had a headache and sore arm after his second dose but otherwise had no problems or concerns.

“There are always risks to everything. But as vaccines go, this is a safe one,” Brady said.

He admitted the long-term effects of the vaccine are unknown, but said getting COVID could be much worse.

“COVID-19 can cause long term effects to the heart and the lungs if you’ve had it — even if you recover,” he said.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 are still encouraged to get the shot because it is unknown if they can get it a second time.

The DOH said, everyone over 16 will eventually have access to the vaccine but more studies need to be done before children can get it.

Brady said, those who are vaccinated should continue to follow safety protocols because it is unknown whether they can still pass on the virus.

To find out more about the vaccine and to see where you fall in the vaccination plan, click here.