It may be hard to believe, but the first vaccinations for COVID-19 went into arms just over a year ago. It was certainly a momentous occasion for Tina Schubert, RRT, RRT-ACCS, an RT at UW-Health in Madison, WI.
On Dec. 14, 2020, she became the first person in her state to get vaccinated.
An emotional moment
“It was a surprise to me being the first person in Wisconsin to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Schubert. “I did not know until after it happened. I cried. It was a very emotional moment for me.”
Schubert says she is usually a private person, but having all eyes turned on her for being the first — and again just last month when the FOX station in Green Bay marked the anniversary — was a good thing.
“I do not mind the publicity,” she said. “I am glad that I can be an example for people in my community.”
The publicity has also given her the chance to spotlight the important role that respiratory therapists play in the care of COVID-19 patients.
“Most people are familiar with the roles that physicians and nurses play,” said Schubert. “So, it was good to raise awareness of what registered respiratory therapists have been doing for COVID patients, as well as other patients.”
Schubert says that, like everyone else in health care, she just wants to get to the end of the pandemic and help save lives whenever she can.
For her, getting vaccinated was an important part of the process. When she combines her vaccination status with her dedication to wearing the proper PPE, she feels empowered to keep going into patients’ rooms to deliver the care they need.
“I know in my heart that I am doing everything that I can to be safe, set an example, and help treat patients,” she said.
Being the first to get vaccinated in her state also empowered her to advocate for vaccination in what she calls a positive and non-political light to her patients and her colleagues alike.
She has these tips for other RTs who would like to join her in that advocacy —
- Speak up and ask, “Are you vaccinated?” Ask “why?”
- Give people factual information regarding the vaccine.
- Get on Twitter or Instagram showing yourself wearing a mask or receiving the vaccine shot/booster. Maybe add the caption “Please Do This.” Something like that can be very powerful, authentic, and compelling.
- Also, you might want to give people visible indicators that they have received the COVID vaccine, such as stickers or bracelets. These are just some examples that could help persuade others to get vaccinated.
Schubert says that after receiving her first dose of the vaccine back in December of 2020, she raised her hand in victory. She wants others to go into vaccination ready to experience the same sense of accomplishment.
Here are two resources from the CDC that can help you address vaccine hesitancy —
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