Providing healthcare workers access to the COVID-19 vaccines will help reduce the spread of coronavirus in our community and help Rochester Regional Health continue to safely care for our patients.
We have vaccinated more than 15,000 members of our vast workforce across New York State. Three of those members of our workforce—Dr. Nadia Kousar, the medical director of infectious diseases for the Eastern Region; Emily Blaise, surgical PA at Unity Hospital; and Judith Cushman, Nursing Program Manager, share their experiences getting the COVID-19 vaccine and why they believe it’s important to get as many people in our community vaccinated as possible.
Dr. Kousar: Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and to protect people around you from COVID-19 and is perhaps our best hope for ending the pandemic.
Emily: I was so excited to get vaccinated! For me, this feels like the beginning of the end of the COVID pandemic. But more importantly the end of this dark time where people are scared to get sick themselves or give something potentially life threatening to their loved ones.
Judith: I believe in the science behind the vaccine and completely trust our infectious disease providers!
Dr. Kousar: Not really, it was something I was looking forward to. Scientific data from clinical trials showed high efficacy and no major adverse reactions.
Emily: No. I trust that the science that went into the vaccine is solid. The vaccine was studied as much as possible and was felt it was safe to distribute so I trust the system.
Judith: I had absolutely no concern. Worse case I could have gotten mild symptoms and if you have ever seen patients with COVID especially in the ICU, mild symptoms are a gift!
Dr. Kousar: Yes, I extensively reviewed the scientific data from vaccine studies.
Emily: Yes, I read articles about the vaccine, its development and production. Also, I virtually attended RRH town hall regarding the vaccine.
Judith: I watched the RRH town hall and watched all news/scientists reports. I trust in science.
Dr. Kousar: Physically, it was just like getting another shot with little-to-no discomfort. Emotionally, I felt fortunate to have received the vaccine so early. It felt like one step closer towards ending this pandemic.
Emily: I was super excited! I felt like a kid on Christmas!
Judith: I have never been so excited to get an injection! I felt relieved.
Dr. Kousar: I only experienced mild injection site soreness and redness which lasted for less the 48 hours.
Emily: No, just a mildly sore arm that improved within 2 days.
Judith: I had nothing except a sore arm, just like the flu shot.
Dr. Kousar: I am still awaiting my second shot, but even after receiving the first shot, I believe that I have added protection against severe COVID-19 while working in a high-risk area. Yet, I continue to take all other precautions such as wearing masks, proper PPE, and social distancing.
Emily: I still worry about my parents, husband, and young son. I feel slightly less stressed knowing I am vaccinated and hopefully there is less of a chance to bring something home to them from the hospital. But there is still worry about bringing COVID home to my loved ones every day that I come to work. I imagine that feeling will probably continue until they get vaccinated also.
Judith: Counting down the days to receive the second one!
Dr. Kousar: We all have to work together to end this pandemic. The COVID- 19 vaccine provides individual benefit by establishing natural immunity against the disease, prevents severe illness even if you get COVID-19, as well benefits the community by preventing spread of the disease and by providing herd immunity. I recommend to double check the facts and talk to an expert if you are on the fence or have heard rumors about the safety of vaccine.
Emily: To save lives. You may not die from COVID if you became infected but the potential to give it to someone that might is huge. It's stressful, that kind of fear can be paralyzing. Besides getting sick and dying from COVID, people’s lives have been altered in monumental ways from the pandemic. People have lost their jobs, either from shut down or needing to be home to support their children for remote learning, and people/businesses are struggling financially because of shutdowns. The vaccine is the way to get back to a more normal life and help people who are struggling.
Judith: People need to get vaccinated for them, their family, and our community. If we don’t, the death toll will continue to climb.
Dr. Kousar: Healthcare professionals are at higher risk of getting infected and at the same time they can spread the disease to the patients they care for, so it is even more important for health care providers to get vaccinated while working on the front lines for their own safety and for safety of vulnerable patients.
Emily: Of course, do your research and read articles that are backed by science and not fear. Vaccines are generally very safe. It is important for people to feel comfortable with the decisions they make for their own bodies. But this particular decision has the ability to help save other people and I would encourage people to seriously consider getting the vaccine.
Judith: Trust in our providers.
Dr. Kousar: We are fortunate that the vaccine is finally available against this rapidly spreading virus which has claimed numerous lives. It is important to understand that based on available scientific data, the benefits of COVID-19 vaccine greatly overweigh potential mild adverse effects.
Emily: I would say that health care workers especially have an obligation to become knowledgeable about the vaccine. I know I get questions all the time from non-health care providers asking me about the vaccine. I think it is the responsibility of a healthcare provider to educate themselves and spread science and truth instead of false information and fear.
Judith: People have told me they are worried because “they made this vaccine so fast”. My response is the best scientists and researchers in the world were all working together. What we are able to do today is exponentially advanced from the flu of 1918. TRUST IN SCIENCE!
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