“My biggest fear is that I will pass it on”
As health care providers, we have been asked about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccines since they were introduced. Safety fears have contributed to a narrow but strong reluctance to get the vaccine, which in turn has contributed to more than 152 deaths in our hospitals alone over the past three months.
As the deadline approaches for mandatory vaccination of health care workers, those fears are echoed within Asante’s workforce. Employees worry about side effects and unknown long-term risks. They are concerned that the vaccine is worse than the disease.
I understand these concerns, many of which are addressed in Dr. Kirsten Schutte’s excellent article, Mythbusting the COVID-19 Vaccines.
I can also say from personal experience that I have not taken care of a single patient who has had a significant side effect from the vaccine. I have, however, taken care of countless very ill and dying COVID patients.
It is true that healthy people are less likely to have a life-threatening illness with COVID than those who are more medically vulnerable. But it’s even less likely that you would have a life-threatening complication from the vaccine.
As health care providers, it is our job to keep our patients safe. The vaccine has made a significant contribution in reducing the spread of COVID, especially in areas with high vaccination rates. A major reason our community was hit so hard these past couple of months is because of our low vaccination rate.
If our health care workers are not vaccinated, then we have an increased chance of getting infected and passing it on to the very people we are trying to help.
My biggest fear is not the illness I would get from COVID, but that I may pass it on. My heart would be broken if I were the one who gave a patient — whose life I was trying to save — an illness that took their life. So not only am I vaccinated, but because I have been bathing in COVID while working in the ICU, I test myself weekly. The vaccine makes it unlikely that I will contract COVID and pass it on, but this extra precaution eases my mind.
The decision to require vaccination of the state’s health care workers was not taken lightly and was not meant to be an assault on health care professionals, including those working at Asante. Our job as a health care system is to do what is best for the health of this community, and that includes ensuring that health care providers will not pass on this dangerous infection to those we care for.
Our community is in crisis. COVID isn’t going away and will likely always be here. It will mutate and another strain will come through, another surge, and it will take more lives of our community members.
To our caregivers, I hope you stay with us because you understand that our obligation, first and foremost, is to patient safety. You do amazing work. I hope I will continue to see your smiling faces in the hallways and the compassionate care you give our patients.
If you need answers for a personal work matter, please contact the author or department directly instead of leaving a comment.