- Written by Barbara Bodzin, Executive Director
- Published: 30 January 2021
The long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine is finally here and is being administered in clinics across Massachusetts to those most in need, and it is welcome news indeed. At LifePath, we are partnering with community and healthcare organizations to coordinate vaccine clinic registration of consumer-facing home healthcare workers, staff, and volunteers in an effort to expedite the process and help protect those we serve. We moved onto Phase Two on February 1 with priority given to elders 75 years of age and over and followed by those 65 and over and those with two comorbidities. We are expanding our capacity to support those in our community who may have challenges getting vaccinated. Our vaccine access program will provide assistance with scheduling appointments and transportation services to vaccination sites.
Rumors, doubts, and unanswered questions about the COVID-19 vaccine are deterring some from getting the vaccine, but the results from the clinical trials show an effectiveness of roughly 95% for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. This means that once you are vaccinated with both shots, your body will fight off the virus. Evidence suggests that it will also protect you from the new variants of COVID-19 gaining traction in our nation, which are even more transmissible. Once vaccinated, you will still be able to transmit it to others who are not vaccinated. This is why it is of the utmost importance for everyone to get vaccinated, and quickly. The importance of vaccinating everyone plays a role in something called “herd immunity”—which means those who cannot receive the vaccine for medical reasons are reliant on our community to be vaccinated so the disease does not spread.
Otherwise, I do not feel different, except for a tremendous amount of gratitude for having had the opportunity to be vaccinated and a sense of liberation to look ahead to being 95% protected from this horrific virus.
The data gathered thus far shows that black, native, and hispanic communities are being disproportionately hard hit with COVID-19. This is due to a variety of factors such as crowded housing conditions, inconsistent access to healthcare, chronic health conditions, working in essential fields, and the negative impact of chronic stress on immunity. Any combination of these factors increases the severity of the disease’s impact on an individual and their community at large. Despite the fact that one of the scientists behind the development of the Moderna vaccine is a black woman from North Carolina, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, there are some who have apprehension, based on past abusive experiments with black populations. Dr. Corbett herself acknowledged this, stating "I also understand that there are issues of lack of trustworthiness. I say it in that way because I understand the onus of gaining the public's trust lies in the hands of people like me."
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is no different than getting the flu shot, with the exception that you absolutely need the booster shot in order for it to be effective. I, personally, had an opportunity to be vaccinated while volunteering to assist at a recent vaccination clinic and therefore can speak to my experience and wholehearted endorsement for getting vaccinated. To begin with, all of the staff and volunteers at the vaccination clinic were wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) and therefore I felt very safe throughout the process. “Just a small pinch,” the tech said as he gave me the shot. I didn’t even feel the pinch he warned of, and I was then directed to sit, socially distanced, and wait for 15 minutes in case I were to have an allergic reaction. This was just a precaution. Afterwards, I was scheduled to return in 3 weeks for my second shot. The next day, my arm felt a little sore and I was a bit tired. Otherwise, I do not feel different, except for a tremendous amount of gratitude for having had the opportunity to be vaccinated and a sense of liberation to look ahead to being 95% protected from this horrific virus. I am looking forward to my second shot despite the fact that nothing much will change in my everyday life until most of the population is vaccinated. I will still need to remain vigilant and socially distance from others outside my home, I will still need to wear a mask, and hand wash and sanitize often. But, I do feel more hopeful and that once most of the country is vaccinated, we can return to many of the pleasures in life we have not been able to enjoy during this pandemic.
I highly recommend you check with your primary care physician about the vaccine, and once given the okay, don’t delay, get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible. Then, urge those around you to also get vaccinated. Let’s beat this virus, together.
Check out www.cdc.gov for facts about the vaccine and what to expect after getting the COVID-19 vaccine so that you can make an empowered decision. When you are eligible to be vaccinated, if you need help with scheduling an appointment or need assistance with getting to a vaccination site, please call us at (413) 829-9285 and leave a detailed message. While we do not have special access to vaccinations beyond what the general public has, we and our partners are preparing to help elders, people with disabilities, and caregivers who need extra assistance. We are also seeking volunteer drivers to help people get to vaccination appointments. Volunteer drivers willing to make a commitment to provide ongoing transportation will qualify for Phase 1 vaccination opportunities. Visit our volunteer page to sign up.