How my family and I overcame my hesitancy and got the COVID-19 vaccine



Photo courtesy of Jennifer Franklin

I’ve worked at Texas Children’s Cancer Center for 22 years. My current role is an ambulatory services representative. Whether it’s greeting our patient families when they first come in or helping them schedule their next appointment, I enjoy seeing our patients’ smiling faces and the resilience and positive spirit that accompanies them.

Many of our patients are immunocompromised, making it difficult for their weakened immune systems to fight off infections and viruses. As we continue to face the COVID-19 global pandemic, I recently took a proactive step to protect myself, my family and friends, my colleagues and our patients and their families.

On April 8, I got my first COVID-19 vaccine. My husband got his COVID-19 vaccine on the same day at Texas Children’s, thanks to the Plus One Program that allows every employee, Baylor faculty member and staff partner with a Texas Children’s badge to register one person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. When I arrived for my appointment, one of the nurses asked me, “Is there anyone you know, like a friend or family member, who would like to get the COVID-19 vaccine today? We have a couple left and we don’t want them to go to waste.” Immediately, I contacted my husband, who was on his way to pick me up from work, and I told him to meet me at the hospital to get his COVID-19 vaccine. He already signed up via the Plus One Program, and this was the perfect opportunity for him to receive his shot. Since then, I encouraged my parents, my 19-year-old daughter, and my two sisters to get their COVID-19 vaccines, and all of them did. I never imagined I would be the “influencer” in my family to get the shot.

When Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was approved last December – followed by the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines shortly thereafter – I was very hesitant about whether I should get the vaccine. Like so many others, I had a long list of concerns. Is the vaccine safe considering that it’s still new? Has enough research been done? Is it effective against COVID-19? What are the long-term side effects?

As more people received their COVID-19 vaccine, the “what ifs” began to flood my mind if I didn’t get the shot. With so many global deaths from COVID-19 coupled with the heart-wrenching testimonials from survivors describing their painful experiences, the thought of me catching this horrible virus made me scared. On Oct. 26, 2019, one of my sisters passed away. Even though she had an underlying health condition, her death certificate said she died from pneumonia and respiratory failure. Then, a few months later, coronavirus dominated the news. Every day, we heard more and more cases of people dying from it. Honestly, I think my sister died from COVID-19, but at the time, we didn’t know much about this virus.

Then, I thought, “What if the vaccine was available to these individuals early on in the battle against COVID-19? Would they have been protected and still be alive today?” I think they would. COVID-19 hit close to home for my family when my 19-year-old daughter told me she had mild headaches and lost her taste and smell. She got tested for COVID-19 and she tested positive for the virus. Luckily, my daughter only had mild symptoms, but she could have been one of the millions who weren’t so lucky. Life is too precious. I didn’t want to take any more chances. I realized it’s better to be proactive, than reactive.

While my colleagues at work encouraged me to get my COVID-19 vaccine and were willing to answer any lingering questions or concerns I had, I decided for myself that getting the shot was the right thing to do.

April 8 was a big day for me and my husband as we got our first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. We received our second dose a few weeks later. My experience after the vaccine was not bad at all. I had a sore arm and was fatigue for the first few days, but that was it. I am so glad my family is protected against COVID-19.

For those of you who are still hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, I understand where you are coming from. My best advice to you is to do your research, ask questions and trust the science. Since the first outbreak, a lot of research has been done. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19. We need to do our part to protect ourselves and those around us.