When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it affected a lot of what we do in our UAW-Ford employee support services and wellbeing program. We learned that we needed to encourage people in a reality where a pandemic will change your work environment as well as your home environment. That said, we chose not to look at the problems at hand, but instead focus on solutions to enhance mental health and wellbeing, and to engage our workforce to embrace personal development throughout the year.
It’s crucial to look at this vaccine as a solution to the pandemic, rather than focus on the rumors around it or the side effects.
I received the vaccine offered by Moderna. At first, I was leery of getting vaccinated, mostly because of a fear of the unknown. It took a lot for me to say, ‘I’m going to do it.’
And I did it – not just because it will keep me safe, but my family and colleagues as well.
I did it for my mother, who is currently battling pancreatic cancer and is especially vulnerable to COVID-19. With her health and my being a secondary caregiver alongside my father, I knew I needed to protect her – and myself – by making sure I have a little extra bit of security in addition to the personal protective equipment I wear around her when I visit.
I also serve on the board of the Detroit Recovery Project, which helps people with mental and substance abuse disorders throughout Wayne County. Often, that role takes me into facilities throughout the county where risk of exposure is high. The vaccine provides extra security for my health and the health of those in those treatment facilities.
And, as an African American, I did it despite being brought up to be skeptical of medical treatment and vaccinations directed at the African American community. My grandparents never visited the doctor except for an immediate emergency. Although I do get annual checkups, I had to get past the fear and look at the vaccination from a rational standpoint.
"It’s not just for me. It’s for my kids and my immediate loved ones. It’s not only protecting me at work, but protecting my co-workers as well as their families."
That was my grounding point. It made me realize I shouldn’t give in to my fear or what I was raised to see, but should look at it from a rational standpoint to not only move my family forward, but move my country forward, too.
And I feel it will help us return to some sense of normalcy, knowing all four of my parents have been vaccinated. I feel like we’re getting to a point where we can be comfortable being around one another – knowing we’re protected from a vaccination standpoint.
I’ve missed human interaction in general. I love being around people and I love being outdoors and engaged in activities like golf and skeet shooting. You can do those by yourself, but it’s not as engaging without people to share the experience with.
With this vaccination, I’ll feel more comfortable to get back to the activities I enjoy doing. When I was out pre-vaccine, there was always that concern about exposure even after wearing personal protective equipment and social distancing from one another. It played a lot with your mind, but now with the vaccination, I’m feeling more confident that I have this extra layer of protection from this virus.
I was even able to go skiing with my kids recently for the first time.
I would tell anybody that just like we followed the advice to wear face masks, this is the next step for us to secure our futures, secure our health, protect our loved ones and protect ourselves. The vaccination is that step forward to get back to normalcy in an expedited manner. I’d encourage you to get past your fears and take the initiative to protect yourself.
I’m also a reserve officer for the Wayne County sheriff’s office. I watched as COVID-19 took the life of Sheriff Benny Napoleon – one of the great leaders of Michigan who always protected himself from the virus.
If you had a loved one or were close to anyone who had COVID-19 and isn’t here with us today, remember to vaccinate. The long-term effects of COVID-19 are worse than any side effect of the vaccine. You are much more likely to die from COVID-19 than you are from any potential side effect of the vaccine.*
I would rather take my chances with the vaccine than take my chances with COVID-19 and its potential long-term side effects.
But if you have any fears, I encourage you to seek out professional help. See your primary care physician and get the right answers about whether you should get the vaccine.
I did my part. It’s time for you to do yours. Let’s #FinishStrong.
#FinishStrong is an initiative to demonstrate real action Ford is taking in the battle to fight the spread of COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, Ford has been working nearly nonstop to produce personal protective equipment of all kinds. Our goal has consistently been to try to save lives. The #FinishStrong message is a timely call to action for all of us who are experiencing the collective fatigue brought on by life with the pandemic. #FinishStrong is delivered with a strong sense of humanity and asks all of us – employees, dealers, partners and others – to join the effort.
* Per CDC, these vaccines are safe and effective, and millions of people in the U.S. have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. A small number of people have had a severe allergic reaction (called anaphylaxis) after vaccination, but this is extremely rare. If this occurs, vaccination providers have medicines available to effectively and immediately treat the reaction.