I’m sure I’m not the only one in this boat, but I have loved ones who are very concerned about the COVID-19 vaccine due to its rapid development and all of the other unknowns associated with the vaccination and COVID-19 in general. However, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation from me. I felt honored, grateful, and hopeful when signing up to receive the first dose on December 28. I guess you could describe the feelings I had walking into the Neutaconkanut Center in Providence as “butterflies.”
I sat down with the person who was going to administer my vaccine and looked around at all the others doing the same. I then noticed the group that were already vaccinated sitting in chairs six feet apart waiting the 15-minute watch period required post-vaccination. It was all very much a bittersweet moment just thinking of all I have encountered and endured in 2020, then multiplying that by however many people were in that building. Yet smiling eyes were all around and a feeling of hope for the future was very much apparent among us all.
“I proudly chose to get the vaccine because every single day I encounter heartbreaking stories of families not being able to freely visit their loved ones.”
A Personal Family Loss
Early on in the pandemic when it was all hands on deck (I’m not sure that has changed really), I opted to chip in at our inpatient unit, the HopeHealth Hulitar Hospice Center, and helped care for the COVID-19 positive hospice patients. I had the honor of caring for my great uncle who ended up passing away there from COVID-19. Both of my grandparents along with my brother and sister-in-law were positive during the month of December. All are on the path to recovery, which I am very grateful for. The way that I look at it is this: I did not get the vaccine because I am worried about myself getting gravely ill from COVID-19. I proudly chose to get the vaccine because every single day I encounter heartbreaking stories of families not being able to freely visit their loved ones. There are stories of couples being denied the ability to accompany each other into the hospital or for doctors’ visits. These are the stories of individuals in long term care facilities who are so incredibly lonely because of restrictions on visitations, activities, the quarantine process, etc.
“I love my job so very much because I feel strongly in offering dignity, peace, and comfort at end of life.”
Offering Dignity, Peace and Comfort
I love my job so very much because I feel strongly in offering dignity, peace, and comfort at end of life — a precious time that will be unavoidable for all of us when meaningful connections are vital and the small things matter immensely.
I got this vaccine to help make it once again possible for families to be together without fear of getting one another sick, for loved ones to visit each other “just because” instead of only being allowed visits when someone is actively dying. I got this vaccine so those at end of life will no longer be separated from the people and passions they enjoy most, I got this vaccine to hopefully decrease the loneliness felt by all of us.
I was sick and tired of being in the status quo of never knowing how/when this pandemic will end. So doing my part in creating a safer environment for our high-risk communities is a no-brainer; whether that means virtual holidays, wearing a mask on hot summer days, or getting this vaccine.
Austyn Joaquin, RN, BSN, Care Navigator, received her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine the first day it became available to HopeHealth employees on December 28. She is scheduled to receive her second dose on January 25. Learn more about how HopeHealth employees are keeping you safe during COVID-19 here.