If you’re like most healthcare professionals, living and working through the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the toughest challenges you’ve had to face in your career. COVID-19 ranks among the top 10 deadliest pandemics in history—something none of us ever predicted we’d live through during our lifetime. Fortunately, the
COVID-19 vaccine became available in the U.S. in December, providing a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. At DispatchHealth, our providers are lining up to get vaccinated—not only to protect themselves, but to protect our patients, as well.
We spoke to three DispatchHealth providers who recently received the COVID-19 vaccine to hear about their experience:
- Allie DiAngelo, Regional Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Lead in New Jersey
- Judy Herman, DispatchHealth Medical Technician (DHMT) in New Jersey
- Madison Press, Lead DispatchHealth Medical Technician (DHMT) in Colorado Springs
What’s it been like to work in healthcare during a pandemic?
AD: “Being a provider during this was very tough. I remember the day the first case came to the U.S., and it was out west. I thought, ‘Oh no—it’s coming.’ To see this wave that felt like a tsunami that may eventually hit was something you could never be ready for. But our Jersey team is dedicated and loyal—we’re fighters to the end. Through all the feelings of burnout that come from working 21 days straight, we’ve supported one another throughout all of this.
It has been an emotional roller coaster, though. Isolating from my niece and nephew was probably one of the toughest experiences for me during this pandemic, and I also have a chronically ill father on dialysis. But honestly, I feel privileged and honored to be here to talk about it because a lot of people succumbed to this illness this year. People with other conditions—cancer, kidney disease, heart disease—that never thought they would lose their battle to something else.
I’m grateful to work for an organization that has supported us so well throughout this crisis. We have so many streamlined policies and protocols in place at DispatchHealth thanks to our COVID-19 Task Force. But this pandemic is something I never thought I’d see, and hopefully these vaccines will be the light at the end of the tunnel.”
JH: “There’s definitely been anxiety, but I always had faith we’d be okay. At the very beginning, we screened for COVID-19 symptoms before visits, but there were plenty of surprises—a patient who might complain about back pain, and then once we arrived would mention that their pain was due to coughing all day. But regardless—it felt like a mission to help people. I didn’t want to shy away from it, stay home, and be afraid. We had to go out there and help people.
In particular, I’m really grateful that I was able to help people who were terrified to go to the ER, whether for COVID-19 symptoms or other conditions. Lots of people didn’t feel safe going to their doctors’ offices—or their doctors’ offices weren’t open—so their medical providers would recommend a visit from DispatchHealth. I was so happy that we were able to be of real service to people who needed medical attention who weren’t otherwise able to get it.”
How did you feel when you found out the vaccine was available?
JH: “I wanted to be first in line! I was very happy about it.”
AD: “I felt the same. I thought, ‘If we don’t get it, where do we go from here? Are we just going to let it keep rolling over us? If this is the beginning of a new future, why not?’ And as healthcare professionals, it’s not just about us—it’s about who we come into contact with. It’s about our vulnerable patients. If we don’t protect ourselves, we can’t safely care for them, so let’s put an end to it. Was it a little fearful? Sure—Judy and I were one of the first few that got vaccinated. But I’m thinking about the people around me and taking it one day at a time.”
Did you experience any side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?
AD: “I had a sore injection site—I’d compare it to the same soreness you experience with a tetanus shot. I also had a bit of a headache, but nothing that couldn’t be controlled with Tylenol. It’s like any other vaccine; we know that any vaccine can cause adverse reactions. Mine were very mild, and I’d absolutely do it again. And if it becomes an annual, sign me up!
I understand that there’s fear around the vaccine, but honestly, I don’t want to fear this pandemic anymore. It’s hit us so hard—our friends, family, coworkers, neighbors—it’s affected everybody. So, at what point do we fight back?”
JH: “I had no side effects except a sore injection site. The first round, it wasn’t that bad, but after the second round, the injection site was so sore I couldn’t sleep on that side that night! That’s it, though. No cold symptoms or anything. And the people I know who did have side effects said they only lasted for 12 hours. I think that 12 hours of feeling a little under the weather beats the alternative of getting COVID!”
MP: “After my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, I only experienced a bit of arm soreness in the injected arm. To be honest, the second dose hit a bit harder. The day after I received it, I experienced body aches, chills, fatigue, and a headache. I won’t lie; it felt like I got hit by a bus, but it only lasted one day! If this is a vaccine that will be needed yearly, such as our flu vaccine, I really hope the scientists can figure out a way to reduce the side effects of the vaccine. There may be some unknowns about the vaccinations, but I believe in science, and I trust the medical professionals who have created this vaccine to keep us safe.”
Why did you decide to get vaccinated against COVID-19?
AD: “My primary reasons for getting vaccinated were to protect myself and others. I want everybody to stay safe. I want to give my loved ones a hug and travel to see my friends. I’m eager to get back to normalcy. We need to come together, stand united, support each other, and do the right thing.
I also got the vaccine for my friend and former coworker, Pam Orlando, who lost her fight to COVID-19. Pam was a breast cancer survivor and a single mom of two boys. We worked together at my previous organization, and she was such a special person. She showed up to work every day with a smile on her face and a huge heart, ready to do anything for her patients. It’s so hard that people like her had to succumb to this illness; she was a fighter, and she put her life on the line. She was there for me when my mom passed away, so my second dose was for her.
Pam actually kept a video diary during the course of her illness. She started it at home, when she first noticed symptoms, and continued it all the way until she was intubated in the ICU. She died just two hours after her sons’ last visit.”
JH: “I also worked with Pam at our last organization, and I wanted to be part of the solution. As more people get vaccinated, we get closer to achieving herd immunity. I want to be able to visit my 90-year-old mother. I want things to resume to some sense of normalcy.”
MP: “I decided to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for many reasons:
- I see COVID-19 patients in my clinical position almost daily, so I felt a duty to protect myself and my immunocompromised patients.
- I am also going a bit stir crazy only seeing patients and staying home. I can’t wait to get out with my friends and family again! I believe the vaccine is the first step in getting back to our normal social lives.
- Our children and grandchildren will learn about this pandemic for so many years to come. How cool is it to be a part of this history lesson?
- The biggest reason that I felt strongly about getting the vaccine was for my coworker’s wife, Brandy, who died from COVID-19 in October. Though we’d been fighting this pandemic for so many months, her passing really brought it home for our COS team. I am fighting for those who can’t, no matter the reason.”
Do you feel more comfortable working as a healthcare professional after being vaccinated?
JH: “After being vaccinated, I finally don’t fear going into patients’ homes anymore. Between greater access to PPE, testing for the virus twice a week, and getting vaccinated, I’ve never felt safer.”
MP: “I do feel more comfortable working as a healthcare professional after being vaccinated. I am aware that the virus is still mutating, but I feel as though I have done everything I can to protect myself, my family, and my patients by getting vaccinated and wearing all the proper PPE. I will continue to do so to keep those protected who cannot get the vaccine or fight off the virus!”
What would you say to someone who was nervous about getting vaccinated?
AD: “I’d say that getting vaccinated is not just for us; it’s for those we take care of who are fighting battles every day. And it may not be COVID-19—it may be a chronic condition like cancer, kidney disease, or heart disease. We need to stand up and come together, because if we don’t do our duty, we could only be hurting others. Let’s protect ourselves for those who may not have had the opportunity to make it to this stage of the pandemic.”
JH: “The vaccine is our ticket to freedom and normal life again.”
There’s no denying that the growing availability of the COVID-19 vaccine will help bring this crisis to an end. Since it first became available, cases in the U.S. have been steadily decreasing, creating a safer environment for all and getting us one step closer to returning to normalcy. And DispatchHealth is doing our part. While we don’t provide the COVID-19 vaccine, we do test and treat for COVID-19 symptoms. Reach out today with any questions or if you’d like to learn more about our urgent medical care services.
DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.
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