Why I got the COVID-19 vaccine: Faculty, staff share their story

April 19, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees, ,

Since COVID-19 vaccines became available in late December, thousands of faculty and staff have taken an important preventative measure in the fight to end the pandemic. In fact, last week Michigan Medicine reached 100,000 doses administered, thanks in large part to so many employees and learners choosing to be vaccinated.  

They’ve done so for a variety of reasons, ranging from protecting those at the highest risk of severe complications from COVID-19 to making things safer for the next generation.

Here’s a quick look at a few of the reasons team members are making every shot count at Michigan Medicine — in their own words:

Sally Bailey, R.N., M.S.N., C.C.M., CMAC

Woman in black shirt receives a vaccination from a nurse, who is sitting down.
Sally Bailey, R.N., M.S.N., C.C.M., CMAC

As a nurse, there are an abundance of clinical reasons for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. But another simple reason came to mind quickly for me:

When I was a young child, my mother got me a smallpox vaccine, which caused quite a scar on my thigh. My own daughter asked me about the scar one day when she was little. I explained that since everyone got vaccinated back in the day, smallpox was “no longer here” and she did not have to worry about getting it or the scar.

When I thought about the reason I got the COVID-19 vaccine, my mind went back to that conversation some 30 years ago. I don’t want anyone to have to worry about getting COVID-19 anymore because it’s “no longer here.”

Shannan Reames, call center/new patient intake manager, Rogel Cancer Center

A baby sitting in a high chair.
Shannan Reames’ baby boy.

My baby is why I chose to get my vaccine. I found out I was pregnant with my first child just weeks before the first case of COVID-19 was announced in our state. I was terrified when that announcement came through. I had only had one doctor’s appointment before chaos hit and appointments went from in-person to virtual if you weren’t considered high risk.

I remember a call that I received from a nurse with my OB office around April last year to check-in — she asked me if I was ok, and that one simple question brought me to tears. I had no idea if I was ok, I had no idea if my baby is or would be ok. There was no science to confirm that and being a new mom, you already don’t know what is normal, so this added a new level of complexity. I couldn’t experience what should be the happiest time of my life with my friends or my family because I was fearful that I was putting myself or my baby at risk. 

My baby boy was born in September 2020. He is happy, healthy and the reason that I chose to vaccinate — not only to keep him and my family healthy, but to be part of the solution to ending this pandemic once and for all!

Rachel Dawson, M.D., managing director, Precision Health at U-M

A woman in a green shirt receives a vaccine in her left arm.
Rachel Dawson, M.D.

My family is not unfamiliar with the fear and stress of a major health crisis. My uncle as a child had contracted polio from playing in rain water collected on the street. He lived in the iron lung, but he was also one of the earliest recipients of the vaccine developed here at U-M. So my family has a history of knowing the benefits of vaccines and how they can free a family from the crippling fear of sickness and death.

As a high-risk person, I lived in that fear during the first few months of COVID-19, but I also lived with the concerning looks in my husband’s and daughter’s eyes every time I ventured out because of my significant medical history. So I knew when a vaccine became available I would get it for myself — as I live with diabetes — for my family so we don’t have to live in fear and for the Black community, of which I am a part, to serve as inspiration for those who may have hesitancy.

Before getting the vaccine, I did a great deal of research on the options, I consulted my endocrinologist about any concerns, I contacted my doctor friends (one late the night before my vaccine to combat that last bit of nervousness) and in January, with great excitement, I got the Pfizer vaccine. 

Since then, I’ve been an advocate for the vaccine. My advocacy culminated in planning a vaccine panel for the U-M Women of Color Task Force (WCTF) which featured Dr. Preeti Malani, Dr. Oveta Fuller and Mrs. Alfreda Rooks. WCTF means so much to me and so many women at U-M. It is our source of professional development, our home for inclusion and our safe space on campus. The vaccine panel was an amazing session for me and my sisters on the task force. People learned and minds were changed. The thought that just one person decided to get the vaccine because of that session is reward enough.

So my vaccine story is one about self-care, family and community. My fear is lessened, the worried looks have faded, and so many in my community have abandoned hesitancy and become advocates for the vaccine. These are our small steps of hope to help us all move forward.

Aleksandar Tomas, M.S., RPFT, CEP, Allied Health supervisor

Man and woman standing next to one another wearing masks.
Aleksandr Tomas, left, with the nurse who administered his vaccine and delivered his child.

My second COVID-19 shot was administered by the same nurse who helped deliver my son eight years ago, at a newly opened C&W labor and delivery unit. It took me a minute to figure out where I remember her from and then it dawned me, as I was waiting during my 15-minutes post shot.

It was so hopeful and awesome, in full-circle kind of way. That’s how the vaccine feels to me.

Tammy Deyarmond, R.N.

Two years ago, my daughter graduated from Concordia as an R.N. She quickly realized that she wanted to be an ICU nurse. Little did she know that her first years of nursing in an ICU setting would be the hardest years she will ever have.

She floated to the COVID-19 ICU. She saw more than any nurse should ever see in their entire career. She gave those patients the best care during the worst times of their lives. She communicated with families via FaceTime, phone calls, etc. And she still continues to give her best, as do many other nurses, M.D.s and techs as we battle this terrible virus. 

So it was clear to me that if these BRAVE nurses could do what they do, a little vaccine with a sore arm and minimal side effects were nothing.  

Share your story!

Headlines wants to know why you chose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine! Email your reason to headlines@med.umich.edu along with a photo that represents why you took your shot (please do not show your vaccination card). You could be featured in an upcoming Headlines story or on digital signs across the organization!

Want to get the vaccine?

If you previously completed the Blue Queue questionnaire and indicated that you did not want to receive the vaccine but have since changed your mind, please fill out the questionnaire again and change your status. Any previous entries will be deleted and you will be eligible to receive an invitation to schedule your vaccine when the next wave of invitations is distributed after completing the questionnaire again.

If you have any questions or problems with the questionnaire, you can email bluequeue@med.umich.edu.

And for a full rundown about how to register for the vaccine, click on these vaccination FAQs.

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