Jean Wendland Porter

Spring has sprung and I am finally seeing my neighbors in their yards again. We’re washing cars,  watering seedlings, rototilling and playing with our dogs. I have a neighbor who is a very smart and enterprising nurse who works in a local emergency room. We recently finally got a chance to talk after all these icy Ohio months. 

I told her about the raging pandemic infections we saw last year. I told her about our 45-year-old  patients who were improving, started feeling sick around lunchtime, were back in the hospital by midnight,  and ventilated the next day. I told her about our successes and our failures. Initially, there were so many failures, and we were overwhelmed by COVID-19 infections, but our rates and fatalities subsided with the onset of vaccines.  

Then the bomb dropped. 

“Too many people are getting the vaccines, and I feel that being exposed is making me immune,” she said.

I told her of the New England Journal of Medicine entry that detailed how variolation played a part in smallpox immunity in the 19th Century, but that this virus exceeds that possibility.

She said that she knows that many people are dying from the vaccine (there is no study that supports  this claim.) 

She said that she knows that many young people are being sterilized by the vaccine (there is no study  that supports this claim.) 

She said that neither she, her wife, nor their child will be getting vaccinated because the vaccine is  dangerous to over 30% of people who have been vaccinated (there is no study that supports this claim.) 

She said that the virus in the vaccine is infecting others (there is no virus in the vaccine.) 

She said that incentivizing people to get vaccinated is illegal (it’s not.) 

She cautioned me not to believe the “propaganda” that’s being pushed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I wished her well and I really hope she and her family stay safe. 

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News recently ran an article about how easy it is for unvaccinated healthcare professionals to contract the virus. 

We are seeing healthcare professionals in our facilities and communities who have myriad reasons to avoid vaccination, and as a result, herd immunity will not be reached. This means that COVID-19 is not going away, but as time progresses we will have better means of treating it, and it may not show the same dire fatality rates as it initially did. But there will be pockets of infection in our buildings that we can expect for a long long time.

What’s the solution? Is it education? Those in healthcare entered the profession because we like and trust science, and we believe that science will help others. But there’s something about this particular virus that makes some of us wary to the point of endangering ourselves and others. 

We need to push education. Employers mandating vaccines may not be the answer, because those who are virulently against being protected against a virus will just change jobs. Education on science and how exactly this protection works needs to be repeated and repeated and repeated until the vaccines become as prolific as the flu shot. Protecting our residents, our families and ourselves is our goal as healthcare professionals.

Jean Wendland Porter, PT, CCI, WCC, CKTP, CDP, TWD is the regional director of therapy operations at Diversified Health Partners in Ohio.