\u2018I\u2019m a Critical Care Nurse, and I Just Received Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine\u2019
Elyse Isopo, 44, is a nurse practitioner with Northwell Health at North Shore University Hospital. She was vaccinated against COVID-19 on Monday.
As a critical care nurse practitioner in New York, I’ve been working the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic since March.
It’s been a long, tiring nine and a half months. There has been more death than I’ve ever seen in my life. Death is what we deal with on a daily basis—young people, multiple people a day. It’s devastating.
Not knowing how to treat the virus, especially in the beginning of the pandemic, was the worst. Every day meant trying a different remedy and, even though we practice evidence-based medicine, we didn’t know what the best evidence was.
We get the sickest patients in the ICU. Pretty much everybody that comes to us needs to be intubated and put on a ventilator. During the first wave, we didn’t have enough ICU beds to take more people. We could only take the sickest patients, and some of them died.
This has not been easy for anyone.
During the initial wave of the pandemic, I knew the hospital was where I belonged.
My parents, who live with me, contracted the virus early on and, for a while, I was more concerned about getting it from them than I was at work.
I also had a ritual to keep myself and my family, including my three children, safe when coming home from work. I set up a decontamination station in my backyard where I would wash my hands, Purell my backpack, take off my clothes, and head straight to the shower. That worked and made me feel in control—for a while.
During the height of the first wave, I only had one day a week off, if that. I made sure I went on a walk with my family or that we did something else for my own mental sanity. I kept telling my kids, “I need this—we have to go for a hike or a walk.” I thought that was really helping me.
I’m a very happy, calm, go with the flow kind of person. I don’t think the pandemic really got to me until we started coming into the second wave. Until that point, I thought I was doing pretty good, mentally.
But when we hit the second surge, I really started spiraling.
I felt panicked. I remember thinking, “Oh my God. We’ve got to do this again?” I was more nervous than I was the first time around. During the first wave, everybody was home and doing the right thing. But that hasn’t happened since. Now, life is going on around us and we as healthcare professionals are still going through these long, difficult days. I’ve thought many times, “Am I going to be able to do this again?”
I was excited when I learned that the Pfizer vaccine had been granted an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Working on the front lines, I knew we would be among the first to be vaccinated.
Our hospital system gave the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to staff today, and I was one of the first to receive it.
I’m so happy. It feels like there is light and hope. I know that a lot of other people are going to be vaccinated behind me and I have hope that this pandemic is going to end. Things are looking up, and I’m so happy. This is so needed.
Physically, I feel normal. The shot itself was fine and I came straight back to work afterward.
I know some people are nervous about receiving the vaccine, but I don’t want them to be. There is science behind it. The FDA is on top of the risks and benefits. This vaccine has been rigorously studied. The benefits of this vaccine far outweigh any of the risks.
The vaccine is also so essential. Everybody that can take the vaccine should take the vaccine. There is so much hope from it.
Together, we can end this pandemic—you just need to get vaccinated, like me.
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