I got the first step. The first step of the vaccine gave me a headache, a sore arm and the euphoric  feeling of hope for release from the restrictions, illness and death that have literally plagued us for  nearly a year. 

I’m pleased that I had side effects. This means that even at my (advanced) age, my immune system is  working. My nine-year-old granddaughter had a sore arm after she had the flu shot last year. She asked  me what she should do for it. I responded that I was proud of her, and she should feel proud that her  immune system reacted to the shot. I recommended that she take some chocolate for it.  

We have coworkers who are reluctant to get the vaccine for a number of reasons. These coworkers  overwhelmingly have science backgrounds. We became healthcare providers because we had an affinity  for science. But their qualms and misgivings come from not trusting science. This is cognitive dissonance.  We trust science, until we don’t. 

Here’s a simplification for those who still have concerns: 

• The depiction of the virus that we most often see is a sphere with spiky projections. Those spiky  projections are part of the protein shell that bonds with our cells and injects virus mRNA into  our healthy cells. The virus makes us sick. 

• One of the vaccines has the protein shell components, not the virus. Our bodies react as if the  protein shell contains the virus. It doesn’t, but it still gives us immunity by recognizing and  reacting to that protein. 

There are those who question the efficacy of the vaccine. What exactly does “95% effective” mean? 

It means that of 100 people who get the vaccine, 95 will be immune. The other 5% may get the virus,  but their symptoms will be mitigated and not as severe. But they can still carry the virus and they can  still be contagious. 

There are those who question the wisdom of getting the vaccine after they’ve already had COVID-19.  Aren’t they immune now? 

A recent study showed anecdotal evidence of a couple in their 30s who both got COVID. She got  antibodies. He didn’t. My cousin got the virus in April and had antibodies in June. By October they were  gone.  

Recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the vaccine will provide immunity for at least eight months. This may be a recurring vaccine, like the flu shot. We all need to be on board for that eventuality. 

I got the first step. The first step toward comfort, normalcy and peace. The second step is coming, and  it’s not just the next vaccine. The second step is regaining our relationships, our residents’ ability to see  their families and preserving their lives. We need to take both steps.

Jean Wendland Porter, PT, CCI, WCC, CKTP, CDP, TWD is the Regional Director of Therapy Operations at Diversified Health Partners in Ohio.