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Sara Ruble, smiling behind her face mask
Sara Ruble, smiling behind her face mask

The Many Motivations for Rolling Up Their Sleeves

Since the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines in December 2020, the Northwestern Medicine workforce has been stepping forward to be vaccinated. This is a historic turn in the battle against COVID-19. Here, workforce members share why they chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Trust in Science

Physicians and employees at Northwestern Medicine are excited about this medical milestone and refer to the data when discussing any hesitations about getting vaccinated.

“I know that the thought of this vaccine for some is very scary, particularly the unknown. I struggle with some of those same ideas myself, but the reality is that this vaccine has been shown to be very safe and effective,” shares Northwestern Medical Group Pulmonologist Khalilah Gates, MD.

Infectious Disease and Organ Transplantation Specialist Michael G. Ison, MD, adds, “I choose to get the vaccine because the research suggests it will protect me.”

Michelle L. Prickett, MD, Northwestern Medical Group pulmonologist and medical director of Respiratory Care, states, “Of all the decisions of this year, it was quite easily the easiest one I had to do: It’s a safe vaccine; it’s highly effective.”

Renewing Hope

A staff nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Sara Ruble, BSN, RN, OCN, couldn’t hide her excitement as she waited on a recent morning to get her COVID-19 vaccine. While it’s not often that people clamor for a chance at a needle stick, that’s exactly the mood going into the COVID-19 vaccine clinics at Northwestern Medicine hospitals. Ruble calls the vaccine the light at the end of the tunnel. She has spent the past 10 months treating patients for COVID-19 in the MICU, holding their hands and watching them fight for their lives. For her, the vaccine couldn’t come soon enough.

“As hard as everyone I’ve been around has worked, there were people working just as hard to put an end to this and put that shot in my arm,” Ruble says. “We’re still fighting this, but the shot puts us one step closer to all being able to be together again.” Those getting vaccinated say the COVID-19 vaccine is giving them a renewed hope and visions of better days ahead.

Controlling the Spread of COVID-19

Across Northwestern Medicine, physicians, nurses, patient escorts, respiratory therapists and more are lining up to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. Their motivation is not just about staying healthy themselves. At the heart of a healthcare professional’s obligation is protecting those they serve, a responsibility not lost on the Northwestern Medicine workforce.

“True heroes not only provide care to those who are ill, but they also take actions to protect others from getting ill,” says Kevin Most, DO, chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.

Nancy Zawicki, MS, RD, LDN, dietitian at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, was the first person Northwestern Medicine vaccinated. “I feel so fortunate to have received the vaccine,” she says. “It’s exciting to be on the forefront to help control the spread of this virus.”

“I was diagnosed with COVID-19 in September, and it was one of the scariest moments I’ve ever experienced. Fortunately I was able to make it through with my life,” says Kwabena Poku, patient escort at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “By wearing my mask and getting vaccinated, I wanted to ensure I did my part to help reduce the spread of the virus.”

Ability to Better Serve Patients

Bonnie Bayser, RN, a nurse in Worksite Wellness at Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital, has been a nurse for 60 years. She says her age keeps her from being able to care for patients at the bedside, but she has not lost her desire to help others. She works flu clinics as a way to give back, and signed up to work COVID-19 vaccine clinics, too. “I needed to be able to give back, but needed to be comfortable doing it,” says Bayser. “So I was anxious to get the shot.”

Protecting Family and Friends

Even those who have had COVID-19 are eagerly signing up to be vaccinated to protect others. “I decided to get the vaccine for my family and my health. I’ve seen family and friends fight COVID-19, unfortunately some losing the battle,” says Maribel Montelongo, patient access specialist at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital. “I am an overweight diabetic of Hispanic origin working in a hospital environment who got a mild case of COVID-19. If I can protect my health and my family by getting the vaccine, why not do it?”

Be Part of the Solution

Widespread vaccination is essential to end the pandemic. Before you roll up your sleeve and join the efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, get the facts about the vaccine.

Why I Got Vaccinated
Why I Got Vaccinated

Northwestern Medicine staff members share their motivations for rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated against COVID-19.