My COVID-19 vaccine story: Jana Keil

Jana Keil during breast cancer awareness week

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 a breast cancer survivor who went through chemotherapy, surgery, radiation treatments and physical therapy all in the span of one year, Jana Keil understands the urgency of lifesaving health care. So she leapt at the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine alongside her 80-year-old mother (under the State of Georgia’s first-phase distribution plan for seniors and caregivers).

“I’ve lost several close friends and family members to this virus, some of whom had been very healthy,” says the project manager in the BlueCross IT department. “For me, getting vaccinated was a civil responsibility, not just to our loved ones, but to our community and our nation. We’re all in this together, we all want to see this go away, and we don’t want to lose any more loved ones because of it. And that’s still happening on a daily basis.”

Here’s what Jana shared about her decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine and her overall experience.

How I decided to get a vaccine

The case for the vaccine was pretty compelling because of my desire to hug on my grandkids, sons and daughters. That was enough to brush off any concerns I had and just go for it. But I followed up with my radiation oncologist, and she gave some very good insight into why she was taking the vaccine. So once I heard evidence and information from trusted medical professionals, the vaccine choice was easy for me.

Living out this past year confined to my home and not being able to see my grandson born last July have been far more difficult than this decision.

When I got my vaccine

On January 28, my mom and I both went to the Dade County Health Department. We were able to make appointments and go together, and we both got the Moderna vaccine. We got our second dose on March 8.

How I felt shortly after

My arm was sore after the first dose, and about 10 days later, I had what I would call a localized, non-severe allergic reaction. The injection site was very swollen, itchy and red. But I took some Benadryl and that resolved it. I never had any other issues. They would not give me the injection on my left side where my breast cancer was and where the lymph nodes had been removed. Both doses were to my right arm.

How I feel now

Physically, I feel great. But there are so many feelings tied up in this vaccine. It’s no surprise that some people are having emotional reactions. We all know health care choices are personal, and everyone’s different – and I do have friends and family who have concerns. I’ve read some articles about the reasons why, so I can try to understand what’s driving some of those concerns and choices. But I think the best choice any of us can make is to not be a part of the problem — be part of the solution.

Need more advice?

First, get to know exactly how vaccines work and 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 CDCFDA 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. 

More COVID-19 vaccine stories from WellTuned

Jesse Thompson

Jesse Thompson

Jesse joined the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee corporate communications team in 2017. A Chattanooga native, he has more than 15 years’ experience in content creation, management, and strategy for consumer audiences, including a six-year stint in health care marketing.

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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 use tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the in the Member Wellness Center under the Managing Your Health tab.