"My Why" By Jennifer Arnold Brazell Rn Intensive Care Unit

Why did you decide to receive the COVID-19 vaccine? For me, it was a no brainer. I work in the Intensive Care Unit and we’ve had a lot of COVID-19 patients. I wanted to protect myself and my family. Taking care of these patients, that was my biggest fear, taking this virus home to those that I love. So I wanted to provide that protection as soon as I could.

What would you like to say to those are who hesitant to receive the vaccine? Most people are afraid of what the side effects may be or they don’t trust it because of the speed of the vaccine. Initially there was a lot of negative things going around, misinformation on social media. It became important to remind people even though side effects exist, those are nothing compared to what you experience if you get COVID-19.

I talked with family members and made appointments to make sure they got the vaccine. You feel a sense of relief, like a burden has been lifted, when you get the vaccine. It’s exciting to know you have protected yourself. You don’t have to worry the same way anymore. My family members feel better having gotten the vaccine. They are seeing their grandkids again and starting to feel alive again.

What would you say to those who are worried about possible vaccine side effects or the Emergency Use Authorization? Think about what would happen if you got COVID-19, if you end up with long-term problems from it. Weigh out how high-risk you are versus the vaccine side effects. Look at the clinical trials. Everyone that I know who has gotten the vaccine has shown a lack of serious side effects. Even the ones who have gotten aches, low-grade fever, or not felt good for a couple of days, that’s absolutely nothing to how it would feel to have COVID-19.

I was most comfortable with the fact that the side effects in the clinical trials didn’t seem like that big of a deal. As a nurse, I see very serious things and what COVID-19 does to people. I looked at the numbers and at how many thousands of people tried this vaccine before it was released to the public. This vaccine wasn’t something that was produced and put out right away. A lot of people played a part in testing this first. I was very impressed by the success rates of these vaccines.

What made you feel safe to get the vaccine? As a healthcare provider and advocate for our community, we put ourselves and our families at risk from the very beginning during this pandemic. We were all afraid for a very long time. By the time the vaccine came out, we weren’t as afraid because we had seen the worst of the worst and we had seen miracles. We saw the impact this all had on employees and the community. That made any risks we took worth it. I’m more than willing as a nurse to pave the way to show the community if we’re willing to do this, we all should. We put our lives on the line every day. I think our actions speak volumes to the community.

What’s the significance of this vaccine to you? It’s life-changing. As a critical care nurse who has seen patients die from COVID-19, initially we saw a lot of patients die from COVID-19, and we learned so much about what to do and what not to do as we learned about this virus. Then, seeing this vaccine hit the community. It was really ironic how when people started getting vaccinated, our numbers started going down. It was just a burden lifted from all of us, knowing our community is getting healthier. People are not dying at the same rate. People are trying. Just knowing that the vaccine is going to change lives and we’re going to be able to hopefully get back to normal again is huge. It will give us some normalcy back.

This interview was conducted in the summer of 2021, prior to organizational decisions regarding employee vaccination status and booster recommendations.