This is part of a series that shares 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?
Five years ago, Zenia Sanchez, a translation consultant at BlueCross, was diagnosed with a case of double pneumonia. She’ll never forget the pain she felt in her lungs and the fear as she struggled to breathe.
“My lungs collapsed, I was breathing at 0%, and I was put on a ventilator,” she recalls. “I was in an induced coma for three weeks in the ICU and then three more weeks at the hospital for rehab. The pneumonia affected every muscle in my body. I was out of work for six months.”
Zenia experienced a lot of the same difficulties as many who are diagnosed with COVID-19 —both physical and emotional.
“I wouldn’t want to go through all of that again, so I did everything I could to avoid this coronavirus,” she says. “Getting a vaccine and facing any uncomfortable side effects would in no way be worse than double pneumonia.”
Here’s what Zenia shared about her decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine and her overall experience.
How I decided to get a vaccine
It wasn’t a difficult choice; the only thing that determined when I got my vaccine was its availability. I knew that as soon as it was ready, I was going to do it. My mind was set.
Because of what I went through with the double pneumonia, I’ve spent the last year locked in my home with little interaction. A couple of my friends lost their parents from COVID-19; another friend lost her mother and her brother.
When I got my vaccine
I’m diabetic, have high blood pressure, and my chronic lung illness is still there because of scar tissue that won’t ever completely heal. My medical history put me in phase 1c for the vaccine.
I got the Pfizer at Brainerd High School here in Chattanooga. The first dose was on Feb. 27th, the second on March 29.
I didn’t have to make an appointment; it was fast and easy. There was only one car in front of me. Volunteers on site gave directions and checked my paperwork. I waited 15 minutes after the shots before heading home.
How I felt shortly after
After the first dose, I was tired. I got it on a Saturday, and because I didn’t know what my reaction might be, I had already taken the next Monday off. But I just got a little sleepy, and probably needed that day of rest, anyway.
The second one left me sore and itchy where the vaccine was administered, but that was it.
How I feel now
I’ve had no long-term effects.
These vaccines are a good way to end the pandemic, or at least result in less suffering. That’s what I’m telling my friends. Some people say they’d rather go through COVID-19 than get a vaccine. I support making your own choices in life, but this is a case where people should think about how their choices affect others, too. You might be strong enough to withstand COVID-19, but what about your parents? What about your grandparents? I urge others weighing whether to get a vaccine to think about the strength of their loved ones. Do it for them, not for yourself.
Need more advice?
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 we’re supporting our members and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.
More COVID-19 vaccine stories from WellTuned
- My COVID-19 Vaccine Story: Jamie Pate
- My COVID-19 Vaccine Story: Dr. Bertram Prosser
- Andrea Willis: why I’m getting vaccinated as soon as I can
- COVID-19 vaccines: Q&A with four BlueCross medical directors
- Suzanne Corrington: COVID-19 side effects: what to expect + tips for care
- Suzanne Corrington: how effective are the COVID-19 vaccines + what does that mean?
- Chris Andershock: how immunity works + 4 ways to boost your immune system
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.