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?
For BlueCross Vice President of Corporate Workforce Diversity Ron Harris, deciding to get the COVID-19 vaccine meant deciding to get back to what he loves sooner rather than later – spending time with friends and family.
“I had an opportunity to hug my daughter. I had not done that in almost a year,” he says. “If for no other reason than that, it was worth it – to be able to embrace your loved ones and have some level of comfort in doing so.”
Here’s what Ron had to share about his decision to get the vaccine and his experience.
How I decided to get a vaccine
When the media announced that a vaccine was being developed, I made up my mind then that I would receive it as soon as it was made available to the public or that I was eligible to get it. It was not a difficult decision at all for me, simply because I routinely get the flu shot and other immunizations throughout my life. I can’t think of any time that’s more urgent or important to decide to get a vaccine than now.
Thankfully, neither I nor my family members have had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, but we know this pandemic does not play favorites. We decided as a family that as soon as the vaccine was available, we would all get it.
I know there is hesitancy, but truth be told, the benefits outweigh the risks. Some of our hesitancy is historical, some is contemporary.
As an African-American, I absolutely understand the historical hesitancy, the historical fear. I understand and have the reference point of the Tuskegee study, as well as other situations related to health care for minorities, and I understand the barriers to care, health disparities and social determinants. Having said all that, though, I still advocate for getting the vaccine – it’s important.
COVID-19 affects African-Americans and other minority groups disproportionately. Our response to it is incredibly important. It’s important that we trust the science, trust the integrity of the clinicians. We owe it to our families to be safe. We owe it to our families to get the vaccine.
When I got my vaccine
I received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine at a hospital here in Chattanooga. I got the first dose on Jan. 4 and the second on Jan. 25.
My wife handled the appointments. She said, “We’re able to get the vaccine on Jan. 4, but we have to get there early in the morning.” I think we were scheduled for 7 a.m. but were probably there by 6:30 a.m. or so.
For the first dose, we waited about an hour and a half, but the line did move. The second dose was much more efficient because they contacted you to schedule an appointment. When we went for our second doses, we walked right in.
How I felt shortly after
You know, it’s funny because for the actual vaccination, you might think it’s going to be different or feel different from others. The truth of the matter is it doesn’t. It’s just like getting any other vaccine. You anticipate the stick. You jump. Then it’s over. I think because of the urgency and because of the pandemic itself, I created this sense that it was going to be more painful.
All I experienced after was the soreness you typically get with any vaccination. You kind of work your arm during the course of the day, then it’s fine. There was no difference from other vaccines I’ve had and no other side effects.
How I feel now
I feel fine now. Again, I experienced no real side effects other than the typical arm soreness. And even though I’m vaccinated, I remain vigilant. When I go out, I still wear my mask. I still make sure I’m washing my hands and social distancing. You can’t take things for granted, but the vaccine has given me a different level of comfort and some degree of stress relief, no question about it.
I look forward to the time when we’re all back together, and I know that’s not going to happen until we can get control of this virus. Wearing our masks, washing our hands, social distancing and getting the vaccine are things that are going to bring us back together sooner. In the diversity and inclusion department at BlueCross, we always say that we are better together, and I absolutely believe that. If we get the vaccine and get better, then we will be better together.
More COVID-19 vaccine stories from WellTuned
- My COVID-19 Vaccine Story: Dr. Bertram Prosser
- Dr. Suzanne Corrington: how effective are the COVID-19 vaccines + what does that mean?
- 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.