This is part of a series that will share real stories of people who have decided to get a COVID-19 vaccine – how did they decide, what was it like and how are they feeling now?
As an ER doctor, Dr. Bertram Prosser was one of the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. He’s been practicing medicine for 11 years and has a background in emergency medicine and public health. He served in the Navy as a helicopter pilot before getting his medical degree and is now a medical director for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (while still working part-time in the ER).
Here’s what Dr. Prosser shared about his decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
How I decided to get a vaccine
I have no preexisting health conditions, but I knew that as soon as a vaccine was available to me, I would take it. I think it’s important to do my best to protect myself, so I could protect others, too.
- On a personal level, I have a wife and 2 small children, and if I inadvertently brought home a virus that caused harm to any of them, I would feel I had failed them if I had access to a vaccine and didn’t take it.
- Professionally, I felt a responsibility to my patients not to spread the disease to them; many are older, more debilitated, and at much greater risk for potentially deadly complications.
- And on a societal level, I want to get back to “normal” as soon as possible! I want to be able to travel again, to go to restaurants. I want the schools open, I want to be able to go to a baseball game or a movie. (Especially Top Gun 2 and the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die.)
When I got my vaccine
I got the first of 2 doses right before Christmas and the second dose 3 weeks after that. I was in and out in 20 minutes – 15 of which were waiting after the dose was administered to guard against any potential complications.
Like a lot of my friends, I posted a picture on social media. As I noted at the time, “take all of humanity’s medical advancements throughout time: antibiotics, surgery, radiation oncology, whatever else you care to list. Add them all up and they have not saved nearly as many lives as vaccines have.” I didn’t come up with that, but it’s true.
How I felt shortly after
After the first dose I felt absolutely no side effects. After the second one, I noticed my arm was a little sore that night, kind of like a flu shot. But after that, I had no other symptoms. Some of my colleagues felt some flu-like symptoms after the second shot for about a day. As of now, none of them have side effects whatsoever.
How I feel now
There is a feeling in the community that perhaps COVID-19 is not that bad – that it doesn’t affect young healthy people that much. But the truth is, there is so much about the long-term effects of COVID-19 that we don’t know.
Many people have ill effects for months after the disease, and we don’t yet know why some people do and some people don’t. I hear from a lot of people, “We don’t know enough about the vaccine for me to feel comfortable with it.” I answer, “There is more we don’t know about the potential long-term effects of COVID.”
More COVID-19 vaccine stories from WellTuned
- Dr. Andrea Willis: why I’m getting a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible
- Dr. Chris Andershock: how immunity works + 4 ways to boost your immune system
- Dr. Suzanne Corrington: how vaccines work + what to expect when you get one
If you have questions or concerns about vaccines based on your health status, speak to a provider who knows your medical history. Your friends and family may have good intentions, but they may not know your body like you and your doctor, so it’s important to speak to a provider who knows you well.
If you do decide to go online to learn more about vaccines, do seek reputable sources like the CDC, FDA or World Health Organization (WHO). You can also visit BCBSTupdates.com to get the latest facts on and support for COVID-19 and vaccines, along with information on how BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is supporting its members and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.