An ICU nurse and doctor reflected on a difficult year while encouraging others to get the vaccine.
“After what we’ve all gone through, I never realized how much I think a lot of us have been holding on to inside,” said Dr. Joseph Khabbaza a pulmonary and critical care physician.
Health care workers said they are exhausted after spending much of the year by the side of patients diagnosed with COVID-19, even when their family members could not be there for their last moments.
“There’s been a few times of holding an iPad up while the patient passes,” said Jennifer Loebick, who is an assistant nurse manager in the ICU. “Sometimes the patients deteriorate so quickly there isn’t time to get the family there and it just sticks with you.”
Those moments are one of many that convinced Loebick to get vaccinated.
“For me, the benefits of getting the vaccine outweighed the risk of getting COVID,” she said.
Loebick said she exercised after receiving her vaccination, but is aware of a report of at least one health care worker in Alaska who had an allergic reaction to the vaccine.
“It tends to be extremely uncommon, but that’s why they established the monitoring period afterwards,” Khabbaza said. “We’re all monitored after our shots for at least 15 minutes.”
Khabbaza said he still feels some soreness around the injection site, like what he experienced after getting a flu shot. He said it mild discomfort doesn’t compare to what he has witnessed treating patients diagnosed with the virus.
“We see people get ill alone, decline alone and too often they ending up passing alone, that’s been the toughest part,” he said.
Although the vaccine will not end the pandemic, for some it’s the light they’ve been waiting for all year.
“It is the light at the end of the tunnel,” Loebick said. “I know that getting this vaccine is not going to end COVID tomorrow, but it is a start, it is the beginning of the end.”
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