National Immunization Awareness Month: Getting the jab!

The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated every aspect of life. For the initial months of the pandemic, we were at the mercy of the virus while it targeted people in every phase of life. The pandemic and its economic and social factors forced a race for a vaccine. After months of testing, the vaccines emerged giving everyone hope for a return to a normal life. However, vaccine hesitancy continues to be an ongoing issue. Fortunately, In the face of the delta variant, vaccinations are increasing. August is National Immunization Awareness Month and now is a perfect opportunity for a fresh start.

We as a society have seen the constant news coverage and public addresses. All of this information can lead to mental exhaustion but we cannot lose sight of our goal. For a time, we removed the masks and ventured out, only to put the masks right back on. Understandably, this is depressing but we do have hope. We still have the best weapon against COVID-19 and its current variants. August is the time to take a fresh look at the COVID-19 pandemic as a problem that we can solve with medical science and solidarity.

Use this blog as a point of reflection. As we gear up for the new school year, sports and August gatherings, just know those things would be safer after getting the vaccine.

Voices of TCHC staff

Its important to hear a variety of perspective on such a pressing issue. Several members of Tri-County staff shared their personal thoughts on the vaccine and why they chose to be vaccinated.

Teenagers are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine with a parental permission

The COVID-19 vaccine is available for people 12 and older.

“While I have limited knowledge of vaccinations, I knew right away that getting the vaccine was at the top of my priority list. Many people are hesitant to get the vaccine due to the political pressure surrounding it, however I never felt that it was a political decision. I made the decision to get the vaccine because I didn’t want COVID to control my life anymore.” – Jessica Frank

“It was simple for me. I do not want to get COVID. Spreading COVID to the people I care about is always a concern. I believe the vaccine is safe.” – Debbie Sly

“I chose to receive the vaccine because I believe in the advances that have been made in medical science. My husband has COPD and is oxygen dependent during the night and has many other diagnosis’ that puts him at high risk. We both received our vaccines as soon as they were available even knowing that they are not guaranteed to be 100 percent effective.” – Brenda Niemela

Abbey Truh and vaccine clinics

In the initial months of vaccine distribution, production issues stifled rollout. There was a great deal of demand but so few vaccines to go around. Attempting to get the vaccine to the people who needed it was an immense challenge. Abbey Truh, a registered nurse at Tri-County Health Care, was chosen to spearhead vaccine clinics. To get a vaccine at Tri-County Health Care, you have to go through Abbey at some point.

For several months Abbey and her team have organized COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Abbey Truh, RN

“Education is a huge part of putting patients at ease,” said Abbey when asked about her experience organizing the clinics. A constant factor of her job is educating people when they walk through the door. Many are on the fence; some are just scared and some simply lack the understanding of how the vaccine can protect them. Abbey has been following the creation of these vaccines from the start. She knows them inside and out. Most of all, she understands the end goal, getting to herd immunity.

Like with other nurses and providers, Abbey is tired and wants to return to normal operations but that can’t happen until we reach herd immunity. Abbey cites rampant misinformation and untrustworthy news sources as a major issue for vaccine hesitancy. People are simply not getting the right information from a trusted source and are instead retreating to social media only to find harmful takes and conspiracies.

Crunching the numbers

To date, Tri-County Health Care has administered 4,498 COVID-19 vaccines with the Pfizer vaccine being the predominant vaccine available. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 5,123 people have received at least one dose in Wadena County. Currently 13, 654 people reside in Wadena County which puts us at roughly 38 percent vaccinated. To achieve herd immunity, we must reach 70-80 percent. National Immunization Awareness Month is a great chance to push for 50 percent. Half of our county population vaccinated would be a big milestone in the fight against COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine has exploded in availability over the last few months and is readily available in most places. Please consult your provider or utilize an online resource to find a COVID-19 vaccination site nearby.

More voices of TCHC staff

“I was more scared of getting COVID than the vaccine. The mask and the vaccine work because I assist people confirmed with COVID and I haven’t gotten it yet.” – Vonnie Perius

“I had COVID-19 before Thanksgiving and I was really sick. Two weeks later my husband got really sick with COVID as well. We didn’t want to get it again and so we decided to get the vaccine. We didn’t have any side effects from getting the vaccine. As far as we are concerned, it was worth getting the shot.” – Diane Crabb

“For myself and my children, there was no question if we would be vaccinated or not. I work with such a high-risk population (newborns) that I choose to vaccinate for myself, my family, and my patients’ health. I see a lot of patients who choose not to vaccinate their children, a few who choose to wait on the vaccines until the baby is a little older, and a few who want to space them out.  It is a very personal decision that I hope no one makes lightly.” – Sarah Riedel

The only tool we have

During an interview, Bobbi Adams, M.D., revealed her personal feelings about the pandemic and the vaccine. She discussed difficulties the providers and medical staff encountered after COVID-19 became prevalent in the area. Dr. Adams misses life before the pandemic and yearns to communicate with her patients unhindered by masks and layers of PPE. From her perspective, the only way to get back to normal life is to get the vaccine.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

During National Immunization Awareness Month, Tri-County Health Care wants to vaccinate as many people as possible. Pfizer vaccine clinics will be held every Thursday in August. The one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also available. Patients can also get the vaccine during a normal provider appointment. To schedule an appointment, call 218-631-3510. Please follow Tri-County Health Care on social media or visit TCHC.org/covidvaccine for regular updates.

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