From Treating COVID-19 to Helping Vaccinate Against It

Eric Adkins, MD, FACEP, is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine and Pulmonary/Critical Care in Columbus, Ohio.

After handling some of the most severe COVID-19 cases in our hospital for more than a year, I am thrilled to be a medical supervisor for our vaccination station. I am an emergency medicine and critical care physician, and for the first time in a long time, my patients are happy to see me.

After converting space in The Ohio State University basketball arena in Columbus, Ohio, our team is ready to vaccinate 250 people an hour, depending on the availability of the vaccine. I am there to answer questions and I will be ready if anyone needs medical attention onsite.

Vaccine-related emergencies are extremely rare, and I am trained to handle any type of emergency that might occur. Admittedly, most of the time I am there to calm everyone’s nerves.

In my conversations, I will mention that while the vaccine is new, there is data that shows it works well and reduces the risk of severe illness and transmission.

I understand that people might be nervous, and I try to make a personal connection with as many patients as possible. Vaccination is ultimately a personal choice —I try to make sure that everyone I speak with feels like they have the information they need to make the decision best for them.  

After the year we have all had, working at the vaccination station has been incredibly uplifting. The first round of vaccinations went to my frontline colleagues and I will always remember the sense of relief and excitement washing over everyone there. Most of my interactions have been distanced this year so I am thrilled to see my work family and community members again, in person and smiling.

There’s hope in the air. Life is steadily inching back to normal, and I am seeing a change in the mindset of many of my colleagues and patients. More than one patient has said to me after getting the vaccine, “This is one of the best days I’ve had in a year.”

People are starting to discuss plans they want to make with their family and friends and it's great to see how excited some people are to resume simple pleasures or mundane tasks, like going grocery shopping, with a lot less anxiety. I am excited too, and I will remind people that even after they get the vaccine, they should continue taking precautions in public, like wearing a mask and maintaining social distance.

My wife and I are both doctors. Balancing our personal and professional obligations has been hard, to say the least. My mother-in-law lives about two miles away and the day is coming soon that my kids and I can visit in-person rather than through a window. There are lots of big hugs coming.  

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