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The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with some unique challenges, especially when it comes to caring for cancer patients with compromised immune systems. It probably won’t surprise you that the arrival of the vaccine was one of the most uplifting days for me and my colleagues.
I remember when I first heard the news… it was like Christmas came early! The decision to get the vaccine was an easy one for me. Working at a hospital, I have seen firsthand how devastating this disease can be. Some of my patients became infected with the disease and it delayed their cancer treatment. Others were so sick that it inhibited their daily activities beyond the time of their initial diagnosis.
I knew the vaccine was the best chance I had to protect myself, my family and my patients. I honestly couldn’t get vaccinated fast enough.
This isn’t just about me, though.
We have had to adopt a very strict visitor policy at the hospital in our efforts to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This means that many people were not able to see their families or friends while hospitalized. While we provide medical treatment, the presence of family and friends is a key component in the healing process.
This became very evident to me when I was caring for a patient this summer who was admitted to the hospital for four weeks. She was having a tough time—in lots of pain and unable to eat and drink. She couldn’t have the support of her loved ones in person because of the pandemic. Our doctors, nurses, and support staff tried to fill that void, but it just wasn’t the same. I often wonder if she would have had a speedier recovery if she had been able to hug a family member or watch TV with a friend while she was in the hospital.
Family and friends can help our patients during a hospital stay, but the only way we can get back to allowing visitors on a more regular basis is by getting the pandemic under control. The vaccine is our best chance to do that!
I strongly encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as you have the chance to do so. Trust the science. These vaccines are extremely effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. The sooner everyone gets vaccinated, the sooner we can start returning to a sense of normalcy. Do it for yourselves. Do it for your family and your community.
This has been a tough year for all of us. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Once enough people get vaccinated, we will be able to do the things that we may have taken for granted before: hug a friend, go to a concert, or visit a family member in the hospital. Please, get vaccinated as soon as it’s your turn.