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Lorraine and Brandon. "I look at Brandon now and see his smiling face, welcomed home at the end of my day to hugs and kisses. I am immensely thankful and grateful to God that his life was spared."

How I Decided to Get Vaccinated and Why I’m Glad I Did

A first hand story from a Bethesda staff member on her experience with COVID vaccination hesitancy.

It’s becoming common in the news and social media to hear people’s COVID stories. People share stories of their ordeal surviving COVID illness, or of a loved one not surviving COVID, or the toll on health care workers on ICU units. These first person accounts are meant to make the statistics, information, facts and data more relatable to the average person. Here at Bethesda, we have stories too. Here is a story written by one of our staff who wrestled with vaccine hesitancy, experienced firsthand illness coming into the home she manages and causing a death, and bringing home the virus to her unvaccinated family. 

I got the COVID vaccine in the spring of 2021, but making the decision to get vaccinated was difficult for me. It came down to trusting my doctor. If I had cancer or a heart attack, or any other disease, I would absolutely trust my doctor‘s advice and take his direction each step of the way because I trust my medical team and know they would seek the best course of treatment for me.  So why not with this vaccine?  Secondly, I couldn’t afford to get sick. I have a family and son with Down Syndrome to care for plus my responsibility as a resource manager.

Unfortunately, my son Brandon is not vaccinated. Prior to the delta variant, I knew he’d refuse to cooperate. His anxiety toward medical procedures is so high that he is unable to get routine medical procedures or tests done. It would take an emergency restraint in a hospital emergency department to do any of these things. I knew getting into a line-up at a clinic or even having someone come to the house wouldn’t work. So I delayed. With the delta variant, I became more concerned, knowing how easily it is transmitted and how vulnerable he was without the vaccine. 

We were careful at work to take precautions, but then in late August, COVID was brought into the home I supervise. All four residents tested positive. Three residents experienced minor symptoms that only lasted a day. The fourth resident wasn’t so fortunate and within a week was hospitalized and passed away. There was nothing they could do to help this person, they couldn’t breathe. It all happened so fast.

During the outbreak I was home isolating, but on September 7, I developed symptoms, became ill with a flu like head cold, and tested positive for COVID. It lasted only a few days but during the isolation and illness Brandon didn’t understand the need to stay away from me.

I’m so thankful that I made the decision to be vaccinated, thinking how much sicker I could have become. Seeing firsthand the illness in vaccinated and non-vaccinated people reinforced to me the importance of being vaccinated and that I had made the right decision. 

But then Brandon got sick. It was my worst fear. I attempted to have him COVID tested but he absolutely refused. To make it even more frightening he refused to take the medication his doctor had prescribed to treat his symptoms and if he continued to get worse, I knew the only option would have been to call 911. This all would have been very traumatic for him causing him to mistrust medicine all the more—because he just doesn’t understand.

Brandon had a week of terrible vomiting, not being able to eat or drink beyond a few drops of water. Dehydration was a constant concern. Thankfully, his illness didn’t progress. He’s recovering and didn’t need to be hospitalized but at the time I didn’t know which direction he would go. I was thinking of the person I had supported and how quickly COVID took her life.

I will be speaking with his doctor for advice as to when he should be vaccinated because of the importance of acting in his best interest and will work with a Fraser Health nurse on a plan to get him vaccinated. It’s just not worth the risk.

I understand in part the resistance to getting vaccinated. I had to resolve my doubts too. I have family members and friends who are opposed to the vaccine. I just can’t understand their reasoning. Even experiencing firsthand the cruelty and swiftness of this disease doesn’t seem to change their minds. Their reasoning against is just as strong as mine is to be vaccinated—there’s no middle ground.

But if my story resonates with even one person, I encourage you to talk to your doctor and get vaccinated. For yourself and those in your life. It’s not worth the risk of losing another loved one.

I look at Brandon now and see his smiling face, welcomed home at the end of my day to hugs and kisses. I am immensely thankful and grateful to God that his life was spared.

Lorraine is a manager of a staff residential home in Abbotsford, BC. She has worked at Bethesda for 25 years. 

At the end of September, the vaccination rate of Bethesda staff was 65%. Bethesda’s protocols comply fully with the BC Provincial Health Office, BCCDC and WorkSafeBC requirements for Community Living workplaces, but vaccinations are not required.

The COVID-19 vaccine is saving lives. Vaccines do more than protect the people getting vaccinated, they also protect everyone around them. The more people in a community who are immunized and protected from COVID-19, the harder it is for COVID-19 to spread.

Please get vaccinated and do your part. Let’s protect ourselves and those around us, especially the people we support who are clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and are at a higher risk to suffer complications from contracting the COVID-19 virus.