Dr. Jeff Balser, President and CEO of VUMC:
Hi everyone. Thank you for joining us for the fifth in our COVID-19 vaccine video series, with our own Vanderbilt health experts. As we've said before, these vaccines work. They're safe and they're the best way to protect yourself, your co-workers here at VUMC, and your family members at home. We want everyone working at VUMC to be vaccinated. So far, more than 21,000 of you have signed up and 18,000 are fully immunized with two doses. But we still have nearly 8,000 of you to go. So we're here to provide some additional information. Today, we'll hear from experts of a different kind. People working at VUMC who have received the vaccine. They'll share their motivations, their concerns, and their experiences. I hope that hearing directly from other VUMC coworkers who decided to be vaccinated, will help you make the same choice. So that we can all protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our patients. Here are their stories.
Question: Why did you decide to get the vaccine?
Jarod Parrish, clinical pharmacologist: Originally, I was kinda on the fence about getting the vaccine due to the fast rollout. But my wife and I did some research about the vaccine, and came away feeling a lot more comfortable with the process.
Chelsea Poe, strategic marketing: The main reason I decided to get the vaccine was for my girls. I have a six-month old and a two and a half-year old. And I would do anything in the world to protect them, anything to make the world a little safer place.
Dr. Modupe Kehinde, critical care attending at Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital: My reasons for getting it is A, to demonstrate model behavior for all the healthcare staff who work in the ICU, and both for personal reasons. I've seen so many patients who have come to the ICU who did not make it.
Lisa Flemmons, nurse practitioner: I think in the summer, I think there were a lot of these conversations with my healthcare colleagues and friends. But as we've gotten closer and we've actually got to see the data that's been published and scientific evidence, then it was no question in my mind about the safety and the efficacy of it.
Iain Montgomery, communications specialist: It was really kind of a no brainer for me. I think me being vaccinated also gave my wife a degree of comfort because she's, you know, not eligible to get vaccinated yet, which is hard. But the fact that I am, you know, I think she feels a little bit more comfortable that if she does catch it at work or someplace else, she's not able to work from home that, you know that she's not going to pass it to me.
Dr. Zoe Belkin, chief resident, OB/GYN: When I was considering getting the vaccine, there was a lot to think about. But the ability to take care of our patients and feel safe while protecting my growing family was my top priority.
Jeff Cates, ER nurse, Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital: I've have seen a lot of COVID here in the ER despite what people think in the community that the virus is not real. It's a hoax. It's, you know, it's just like the flu. I can tell you, it's not from firsthand experience. That's why I thought it was my due diligence to receive the vaccine.
Cedric Duncan, pathologist: Well, I got the vaccine in order to help my community and relate to the people around me and to the friends and family that I know. Science is very important and just being healthy and being safe in the community is very important.
Question: Did you have any side effects or other problems?
Kathy Beckett, director of emergency services, Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton Hospital: I had my vaccine, the first one was easy breezy. The second one, I did have a day when I didn't feel great but I kept thinking "I can get over these chills and a little bit of fever because I'm getting immunity."
Parrish: I'm fully vaccinated. And my first shot, just had a little arm soreness. And my second shot, I had the same type of arm soreness, but no fevers or anything like that.
Poe: You know, the entire process of getting the vaccines was pretty seamless. I think everybody, there was just a feeling of excitement and of gratitude to have the vaccine and to be able to get it. My arm was a little sore, you know, but overall overall, I felt pretty great.
Cates: After the first shot, I didn't really have anything but a really sore arm. Nothing ibuprofen or Tylenol couldn't fix. The second shot was a little worse as far as pain in the arm, had a little mild fever, But in comparison to having COVID-19, it was, I would rather have those symptoms than to have the full blown virus.
Kimberly Newsom, senior research specialist: I enrolled in the vaccine trial seven months ago and was in the vaccine arm of the trial which means I've had the vaccine since September. I've had very minor side effects. Basically, a sore arm when raising it. And I feel great.
Montgomery: The first shot just gave me a sore arm. Didn't really have any other issues besides that. Arm was sore for a few hours. The second shot, I did feel pretty tired for about 12 hours afterwards. No fever, no chills, nothing like that.
Kehinde: I did not have any significant side effects, when I got the vaccine. Except for soreness in my right shoulder, on my right deltoid. And it only lasted a few hours. Thereafter, I have not had any side effects.
Duncan: And I got the both doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. And it was a very painless experience. The nurses were amazing and the only symptoms I had were just a sore arm the day after. Other than that completely painless experience.
What's your advice to VUMC colleagues who've not chosen to register for the COVID vaccine yet?
Kehinde: I will boil it down to this. Will you rather risk having COVID infection or will you rather have side effects from the vaccine? The side effects from the vaccine are well-known and for most intensive purposes, they're self-limiting. But the risk of catching COVID-19 is too high. You don't know what it's going to do to you. It can make life miserable and it can even lead to death. So if I were a betting man, I would bet on the side of receiving the vaccine because the risk and side effects from the vaccine is a whole lot less than getting the disease itself.
Cates: I would rather have those symptoms than to have the full blown virus. So I think it's very important that we all do our part. Just get your vaccine.
Poe: I would say for those who have not gotten it who are thinking about getting it, you know it's important to do your research. But also I would say to think of those that you love and how you would do anything to protect them and keep them safe. And, you know, getting vaccinated is one way to do that.
Montgomery: And I'm putting these videos that you've been watching together. And I can tell you that the information in them is vetted. The scripts are looked at very carefully to make sure that the information is accurate.
Duncan: Getting the COVID vaccine helps us get back to being able to just experience life. And I think it's, it's safe and effective. Everyone should do it when they have the opportunity. But it's nothing scary, nothing to worry about. And that's great.
Beckett: I recommend that everyone, anyone who's eligible, get a COVID vaccine. Please help our communities fight this COVID battle.
Newsom: My participation is just my small contribution so that we can all live. When given the opportunity, take the vaccine. We're in this together.
Belkin: I'm so glad I got the vaccine and I know my colleagues and I are happy to talk to you or your family members about it.
Parrish: I would just say, do not let others' opinions keep you from getting a vaccine. Do your research and make your peace with your decision. Because the decision is yours and yours alone. All right. Thanks. Hope this helps.