Sandy Mata spent several weeks last year collecting nasal swabs for COVID-19 tests at Kaiser Permanente medical office buildings in Oregon. Then, in December, she administered some of the first vaccines in the state.
Still, she wasn’t quite sold on the idea of getting vaccinated herself.
Like many people, she wondered if the vaccine would actually protect her from the deadly virus, or if it would cause other, serious health issues. She weighed those concerns against the fact that people of color, such as herself, are being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.
As a medical assistant in the pulmonology department at Sunnyside Medical Center in Clackamas, Oregon, she knew the wisdom of making health decisions based on scientific facts from trusted sources, as opposed to believing the “noise” on the internet.
As she says, “I crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s with respect to focusing on scientific data.” She relied on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oregon Health Authority, and Kaiser Permanente for information. She also felt comfortable asking a lot of questions of her care team, and they gladly provided answers.
Still, she waffled a bit, until she saw several doctors with whom she works getting vaccinated. “If my pulmonologists, obstetricians, and family practice doctors think it’s OK, then I’m comfortable that it’s the right decision for me, too,” Mata said. “The vaccines are safe, effective, life-saving, and free.”
After receiving the required 2 doses, she said she “felt like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was relieved that I wouldn’t bring the virus home to my family, I would finally get to see my grandma, and I would be able to take care of my patients safely.”
She even served as an example to at least one co-worker who chose to get vaccinated after hearing about Mata’s journey from vaccine-hesitant to vaccine-confident.
Mata now says, “It’s vital that we spread the word — vaccination is the last piece of protection we need to put the pandemic behind us. When you have the opportunity, go for it.”