Chris Bykowski: Get the Vaccine So Business Can Go Back to Normal!

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Chris Bykowski is ready for the pandemic to be over.

It’s dramatically hurt his business and taken friends and family away from him.

Even though he had heard lots of vaccine misinformation, he decided to get his vaccine so that he can keep his family, friends, and customers safe, and so that we can put an end to COVID once and for all.

“To me, it’s no big deal to get vaccinated. Help the rest of the planet out. Let’s do it together,” Bykowski said.

Find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you with Salud.to/findvaccine!

How COVID-19 Hurt His Business

Bykowski is a Navy combat veteran who is originally from Michigan.

He’s lived outside of Austin in a rural area of Texas over the last decade.

Before the pandemic, he owned and operated a brick-and-mortar clothing business in Austin that specialized in rustic, western-style menswear.

Unfortunately, the pandemic forced him to close his store.

“It’s crippled our business down to where we’re still operating 30 to 40% of where we should be. We lost our store in June 2020,” Bykowski said.

Now, he and his wife operate the clothing business and a firearms dealership out of their house in rural Texas.

They’re planning on opening a Western-themed bar, but the pandemic has also delayed its opening.

They still struggle with the lack of business and supply chain disruptions. Adjusting has meant many changes for his business and his home life.

“We’re now seeing each other every day because we work together, but now we’re working from home and seeing each other every day. So it makes it even harder. And there’s been a loss of savings. All that, in the past year just makes everything a lot harder,” Bykowski said.

Find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you with Salud.to/findvaccine!

Getting Sick & Losing Loved Ones

In addition to the impact on his business, COVID also hit close to home.

“My wife and I got it. My parents think they got it, but I’m not sure, they never got tested or anything,” Bykowski said.

He still feels the lingering effects of COVID months later.

“We got it pretty bad. I still have respiratory issues. I have asthma now. I was in good health before and I’m still feeling just groggy and like I got a chest cold all the time. And my wife had asthma to begin with, so we’re trying to keep her away from everything. We don’t want to have any complications,” Bykowski said.

Bykowski has also had close friends and clients of his business get sick and die from the virus.

“No family members that got it too bad or directly affected by it. But we had a lot of friends and distant family members be affected by it greatly,” Bykowski said.

Find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you with Salud.to/findvaccine!

Learning About the Vaccine & Facing Misinformation

When the COVID-19 vaccine started rolling out, Bykowski was eager to learn about the facts.

“I was looking at the bright side of it. I mean, the only thing at first was this thing’s rolling out very quickly. Is it going to be safe?” Bykowski said.

Reading about the research and procedures behind the vaccine made him feel comfortable getting it.

His military background also helped.

“Being ex-military and all that, I’ve been vaccinated with a bunch of different things. It’s just the way it goes. I got on board pretty quickly with it,” Bykowski said.

However, many people close to him were not on board. Still, Bykowski thought the risk was not higher than any other environmental exposure.

“I’ve had lots of friends and family against it. But my whole deal was that we’re already exposed to plenty of other things in our daily life, whether it be smog, asbestos, construction work, fast food. You’re going to be exposed to anything that’s bad for your health or your system eventually, or we have been for decades already. So, what’s a vaccine going to do?” Bykowski said.

He heard many different conspiracy theories and myths about the vaccine that were circulating on social media from his friends and family, but none of them made sense to him.

“I heard they make you magnetic, the microchip Bill Gates thing, they make you sick, and that you won’t be able to get pregnant. Society kind of makes up these things to start more news, in my point of view, so I’ve heard all those things all over the news, on YouTube, from friends and family, and none of them really have any merit because it’s all hearsay,” Bykowski said.

Find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you with Salud.to/findvaccine!

Getting the Vaccine Himself

Bykowski wanted to get his vaccine so that he could start getting his business back to normal.

“I just want to get things rolling back to normal because no one wants to be sitting around in the house for a year and have the economy crashed. That was the main thing, and to keep my customers and family safe, too,” Bykowski said.

Bykowski was able to get the Moderna vaccine in May 2021 from a VA clinic. After he got it, he didn’t feel many side effects.

“The side effects of that weren’t too bad. I just felt weak for a day after both shots and that was it,” Bykowski said.

Now that he’s vaccinated, Bykowski feels more comfortable being out and about.

“To me, it just means helping out as a citizen and being there for society and my family,” Bykowski said.

He’s even seen some more conservative family members get vaccinated and be proud to show it off.

“It’s kind of odd, because they’re more on the right side, Republican. And that was nice to see that they got it, no problem. And they’re proud to say they’re vaccinated,” Bykowski said.

He hopes that anyone still hesitant to get the vaccine will do their part for society and help put an end to COVID-19.

“I mean, what do you have to lose? You see everyone else getting it, it’s fine,” Bykowski said. “I’d say what it all comes back down to is what you can do for your planet, your economy, and society, just to all work together to get this thing eradicated. Being able to enjoy life again is better than this thing just taking a stronghold on the planet and society in general. To me, it’s a no-brainer.”

Find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you with Salud.to/findvaccine!