By: Patricia Hudak, RN and Chelsea Cassidy, LCSW
The COVID-19 vaccine has arrived and is being distributed throughout the country to every state. The first phase included healthcare professionals and residents of long-term care facilities. We are aware that within our healthcare community and even outside, the question for many of us, specifically the minority population, remains “Can I trust those in authority that the vaccine is safe-particularly from long term effects and not getting sick?”
The healthcare community as well as the nation remains divided on this question. We are looking to our leaders for guidance and education to make the best personal informed decision.
In today’s climate there are many more aspects that we are aware of that need to be considered when making this decision. For instance, how does race and cultural differences impact this decision? As a company, we are committed to continually look at our perspectives and policies on equality for our employees and the people we serve.
In efforts to better educate and inform ourselves, we had the privilege to interview one of our AT Home Care Chaplains, Reverend Justin House, regarding his decision-making process for receiving the vaccine.
Reverend House has been a Chaplain with AT Home Care Hospice since December 2019. He has joined the healthcare community at a challenging time, considering the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect the United States just four months after he joined our team. He has three children and is also the Senior Pastor for Tabernacle Baptist Church in Chesterfield, VA.
Initially, Reverend House viewed the COVID-19 vaccine similarly to his decision to not receive the flu vaccine. They are both viruses, right? You receive some active dead virus for the flu virus to build antibodies to fight the flu. Reverend House looked collectively for the common ground to make an informed decision. He reports he took comfort in hearing from professionals and the CDC website that reports “none of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.”
This statement and reassurance from professionals helped to decrease his fear of getting ill due to the vaccination. He shared with us that like many others, he hoped that COVID-19 would “just go away” and eliminate his need to make a decision. Unfortunately, time has shown that even our best human efforts to fight COVID-19 with mask wearing, remaining 6 feet apart, and social distancing is not enough to stop the spread. Reverend House has adapted well to the mask wearing mandate and takes his style to the next level in wearing a comfortable and appropriate mask for each occasion.
Reverend House shared that he recognized the need to look for the collective effort of information and implementation of our leaders for their example of following best practices, learning from our history and looking towards today which can move him and minorities to change now and for the future.
When asked, “what would you say to someone that is fearful about receiving the vaccine?” Reverend House responded he wants to offer hope, he stated “we need to acknowledge the past but find ways to move forward and make a change today.” He is looking forward to taking a courageous step to build confidence that could lead to systemic change. He recognizes there are unknowns, real fears and concerns however, in his process he can clearly see there are more pros than cons. He stated, “someone has to start it” and he is glad he can play a part for the next step in unity.
We want to sincerely thank Reverend House for his vulnerability and transparency for sharing his reasons for getting the vaccine. This is a great example of how the healthcare community is taking steps to unite for the greater good.