This interview was conducted in the summer of 2021, prior to booster recommendations and organizational decisions regarding employee vaccination status.
Greg Repass, MD, Vice President of Clinical Support, Baptist Health Lexington
Why did you decide to receive the COVID-19 vaccine? I chose to receive the vaccine for my family, so I could protect them. I also chose to receive the vaccine for my patients. As a physician, I wanted to make sure I protected my patients from contracting COVID-19, as we know people without symptoms can pass it on. I also wanted to receive the vaccine for my community to makes sure I was protecting others I was around and not propagating the spread of the virus around the community.
What would you like to say to those are who hesitant to receive the vaccine? Any decision about your health should be taken seriously with all the available information. What I will tell you is that a lot of work and consideration has gone into making sure we understand the safety and efficacy of these vaccines, and we know they are efficacious and we know they are safe. In fact, so many of the doses have been administered, we probably have more safety information on these vaccines than we do on some of the typical vaccines we receive on a year-to-year basis. I would suggest getting all the information you need and talking to your doctor, but ultimately thinking about all of the health benefits there are to receiving this vaccine and the benefits to your community.
What would you say to those who think it may not matter if they don’t get the vaccine? We are all in this together. We absolutely have to look at our own individual responsibility to our families and communities. If all of us can get vaccinated, our community can be protected from a surge of the virus. When you choose to be vaccinated, you are protecting those who can’t protect themselves, those who are sick, chronically ill, or have conditions that make them unable to fight off the virus or have a high risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus.
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What made you feel safe to get the vaccine? I felt it was safe because I had trust in the science and the data that had gone into making sure the vaccine was not only efficacious, but that it could be administered safety.
What were your worries? I knew that there would be some side effects, mainly flu-like symptoms, aches and some fatigue, so I anticipated that. I made sure I had some flexibility in my schedule to rest and account for that. But ultimately, I didn’t have a lot of worries about serious side effects. I knew that the side effects I would feel indicated my immune system was ramping up to fight off any exposure in the future.
What’s the significance of this vaccine to you? When I got the vaccine in December and again in January, it was a huge breath of relief. It meant a lot to me to protect myself and the patients I serve in this community. It also meant I could protect my family. And it meant that down the road, all of those I cared about could receive the vaccine as well. I was grateful there was a simple act that was safe that I could do to help protect the community I love and serve.
Should a person get vaccinated if they’ve already had COVID-19? If you’ve had COVID-19, after recovery, it’s still absolutely vital to receive the vaccine. We know that for similar coronaviruses, immunity is transient. It goes away, from season to season, it doesn’t last that long. So the immunity from the infection itself, although we don’t fully understand it yet, may not be long lasting. But we do have a lot of data that perhaps the immunity from the vaccine lasts longer and is more durable. So, there’s absolutely a lot of information and support to get the vaccine after recovery even if you’ve already had COVID-19 as the best way to protect yourself and help us all put an end to this pandemic.
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