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Encouraging everyone to take vaccine

By Eleanor O. Minns

I am taking time to tell you of the wonderful experience I had on Jan. 30.

I received a text by way of my church’s group text system. I was informed that there was an appointment for the church members to get the COVID-19 vaccination. The text was seeking interest from people in the church in getting the vaccination on the following Saturday.

There was not a lot of time to make such a big decision. After all, there have been lots of tales about the vaccine, and some are frightening. Being a Tuskegee University graduate with first-hand experience with treating some survivors of the Syphilis Study, my fears overwhelmed me. I entertained lots of “what-ifs”: What if this was another study on Afro-Americans? What if the Pfizer serum had degraded because of being left out of refrigeration too long? What if I experienced a reaction?

I called my sister to discuss the matter. My sister was so kind as to remind me that the vaccination would be comparable to when we went to the old Suffolk Health Department to be vaccinated for chicken pox, measles, mumps and the like. She was convinced that the vaccination would be no more to be fearful of than those vaccinations. All the information she provided me was great, but not enough to convince me to take the vaccination.

Friday morning came, and the phone rang. It was my pastor, Rev. House, and he asked if I would be interested in taking the vaccine. I told him I had not made up my mind. I expressed some of my fears about the vaccine. He indicated that there were two choices: I could take the shot and be free of problems caused by the disease for the most part, or I could not take the shot and try to live through this pandemic. The pastor reiterated, more than 400,000 people in the United States have died from it, and more people are predicted to die. I thought, I could be in that latter number that are going to die from the lack of prevention. This was the prevention needed to stop people from dying. I asked my pastor if he was going to take the vaccination, and he said it was a “no-brainer” for him.

Saturday morning came, and another church member and I were on our way to the Scope in Norfolk. I parked in the underground parking lot located beneath the Scope. I was amazed at the greetings we heard as we walked to the elevator and the kindness everyone demonstrated as we passed them.

Upon entering the building, our temperatures were taken. Everyone wore a mask and spoke with a gentle, kind voice as if they were expecting us as their guests. Once our temperatures were taken, we were directed to follow the yellow dots along the floor in the circular hallway. At the next station, we checked in, and our demographic information was confirmed in a computer. Staff walked about us inconspicuously, greeting us and asking questions as if to make sure we were having a positive experience.

I got the shot! It was so fast, I did not know she had administered it. I know you will never believe this, but the nurse thanked me after she administered the injection. I looked at her in amazement and told her, “No, I thank you.”

She then directed us to a waiting area where we would be screened for side effects. I waited 15 minutes for side effects, then I checked out. The final station was to confirm that I had my appointment for the next vaccination and that I had my card to verify that I had been inoculated against the COVID-19 virus with the Moderna vaccine. Finally, I was directed to the door leading into the parking lot. Although there were a large number of people at the Scope, those in charge with the process made my maneuvering and arrival at the correct location easy. This provided a level of confidence in that big city.

I feel so much better since I got the vaccination. I feel safer. I feel more comfortable to walk into a store (with my mask on) because I am 50% safer now. I can’t wait until my next shot so I’ll be even more protected against the virus. I have peace of mind.

My experience at the Norfolk Scope, sponsored by the Sentara Health Group, was one of the most well planned, adequately staffed, comfortable endeavors I have ever experienced. Everyone had something nice or encouraging to say as you passed by. Every staff member attempted to make us feel as comfortable as possible.

Thank you Ms. Iris Lundy, Sentara Health Care Staff, Evangelist Knight, the Rev. D.E. House, LMBC and my dear sister.

I encourage everyone, especially people of color, to take the vaccine.

Eleanor O. Minns is a resident of Suffolk.