PORTSMOUTH — In their daily lives, most people take precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19. For Dr. Ron Miller and his wife, Jessi Miller, that isn’t really an option. Dr. Miller is an emergency room physician at Southern Ohio Medical Center, where Jessi is a respiratory therapist. They both care for COVID-positive patients every day.
Like all healthcare workers, their lives have been impacted by the pandemic since it began. Fortunately, there finally appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel: The COVID-19 Vaccine.
“I feel like the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel leading to getting back to normal,” Jessi Miller said.
“This vaccine is as safe as any other, if not safer,” Dr. Ron Miller added.
It’s certainly a lot safer than being infected with COVID. Over the course of the pandemic, the Millers have seen COVID-19 present in conditions ranging from asymptomatic to dying.
“I’ve seen people with ankle fractures who are COVID-positive and didn’t know they have it, and I’ve seen people who come in and require a ventilator to stay alive,” Dr. Miller said. “It goes from one end of the spectrum to the other.”
“Patients who seem to be doing fine can change quickly,” Jessi Miller added. “Oxygen levels go from stable to unstable very fast.”
The public’s attitudes about the virus have been just as varied, though actually contracting it – or being close to someone who does – tends to be an eye-opener. “I’ve had patients laying there and they just look at me and say, ‘If I’d have known it was going to be this bad, I would have worn my mask,’” he said.
Similarly, misinformation about the virus is now giving way to misunderstandings about the vaccine. The most common myth is that the COVID-19 vaccine was “rushed.” The truth is, while this particular strain of coronavirus may be new, coronaviruses themselves have existed for decades – and a vaccine to combat forms like SARS and MERS has been in the works since the early 2000s.
“They’ve been working on coronavirus vaccines for a decade,” Dr. Ron Miller said. “It was intensified with the pandemic, but it’s not necessarily new technology.”
Not only is the technology not new or rushed, the vaccine also appears to be remarkably effective with success rates higher than 90%. While everyone who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine should, Dr. Miller believes it is especially important for healthcare workers. Not only does their profession come with a
higher risk of exposure, but when they contract the virus it can have damaging consequences for a community struggling with a still-raging pandemic.
“Our community needs us, and if we’re sick, we can’t work,” he explained. “I don’t want to get sick and sit on the sidelines. I would encourage my entire healthcare team to get vaccinated. That includes my medics, law enforcement, janitorial staff, administrators at the hospital…”
“For us, our risk of getting COVID is so high it’s a no brainer to take the vaccine,” Jessi Miller agreed.
Considering the rampant community spread of COVID-19, it’s not just for healthcare workers that the vaccine should be a no brainer.
For more information about COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines, please refer to CDC.gov.