Commentary

US-based pediatrician
on what it’s like to get the jab

I had no reluctance about getting the vaccine

The author getting vaccinated (Photo courtesy of Michelle Dizon)

I have been a general pediatrician for 15 years now in Delaware, USA. We see patients, from the newborn to 21-year-olds, for routine physical exams and for various conditions such as the common cold, ear infections, Strep throat, acne, sprains, ADHD, and depression.

I had no reluctance getting the vaccine. Based on the trials, it is safe and effective. The listed side effects (more appropriate term—immune reactions) such as fever, body aches, fatigue, injection site pain, are similar to those of other vaccines.

I would rather experience these “side effects” than getting sick with COVID, which has a higher risk of severe symptoms and death. The only thing that made me hesitate for a bit was the schedule. The first dose (Pfizer) was scheduled to be given a few days before last Christmas. I didn’t want to run a fever or have other symptoms, then be isolated and tested before/during Christmas. I quickly got over that by talking to friends and thinking it through.

After the first dose, my arm felt sore for less than two days. After the second dose, my arm was less sore but I had pain in my armpit. It disappeared after a day.

I’ve felt no other symptoms, and it’s almost been two months since my second dose.

I took the vaccine so I could minimize my risk of severe COVID disease. Hopefully, it decreases the risk of transmission as well. I want to be able to see family and friends. I want my kids to see their grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends. I want them to go back to tennis and dance lessons. I want to travel with my family. I want to go to Seoul with my family and my KDMD Seoul Sisters. And I want to see BTS in concert!

Since the pandemic started, my day has been limited to going to work then going home. I go grocery-shopping on the weekend if I have to.

I am a little extreme with social distancing. I haven’t met up with my bigger family and friends since the pandemic began, except when we had a sidewalk birthday greeting for one of our friends and an outdoor prayer service for our friends’ sister who passed away.

Aside from the few times I brought my son to outdoor tennis lessons during the summer and to his orthodontist appointments, no one has been in the car with me. I used to be busy being their driver—picking them up from school, bringing them to tennis lessons, dance classes, birthday parties, etc. We used to go out with friends a lot, or visit family/friends in other states, or go to New York City for fun. Now, we just stay home. The kids ride their bikes around the neighborhood with a couple of their friends, with masks on. They were homeschooled for a while but they’ve returned to school for face-to-face lessons.

Unfortunately, we have all had so much screen time. I have also done a lot of online shopping.

But I think people are tired. I am tired. COVID fatigue is real

Our numbers here in Delaware have gotten really bad, like the rest of the US. We have 29.2 new cases per 100,000 population, which is still at dangerous levels. Our ICUs are at 83% capacity.

I don’t really know what the mood is, since I don’t go out. But I think people are tired. I am tired. COVID fatigue is real, but I am trying my best not to let my guard down. People wear masks in public because it is required. However, people have been meeting up with family and friends, particularly during the holidays. Some are scared or are still cautious, but maybe not as much as in the beginning.

I know a lot of people who were infected. Unfortunately, I also know people who passed away due to COVID.

We have to adapt to all the changes the pandemic has brought about, so we can take care of our patients as best we can.

In our clinic, there are screening questions for patients and families when appointments are set, confirmed, and when they get to the clinic. If there is possible exposure/infection, the visit is rescheduled or changed to telemedicine. (This is for well/non-sick visits). Only one parent/guardian is allowed to be with the patient. They wait in their vehicle until a nurse lets them into the office. They also wait in the exam room for an office staff to walk them out after the consultation. This is to avoid patients running into each other. It’s for this same reason that we have separate entrance and exit ways for well and sick patients. All physicians and staff wear masks. We use appropriate PPE. We also do telemedicine visits.

To keep myself strong, I take supplements—multivitamins, Vit D, Vit C, zinc, melatonin. For my mental health, there’s BTS.

I’ve lost weight mostly because we haven’t been eating out. We used to eat mostly takeout food (fast food—very unhealthy) or eat out. Now, we have home-cooked meals, thanks to my mom. I haven’t had soda since the start of Lent, either. No more large iced mocha coffee from Dunkin.

The anxiety probably contributed to the weight loss as well. I just want to stay safe and not bring anything home to my family.

This crisis has taught me a lot of things. Be thankful for everyone and everything. Never take anything for granted.

When we get back to normal, we must take every opportunity to experience life—meet up with family, relatives, friends; travel; etc.

The sad lesson is that people could be selfish and not care about others, and insist on their “rights and freedom” over something as simple as wearing a mask.

About author

Articles

She has lived in US since 2001. She’s married, with two kids, aged 14 and 10.
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