Sam Brooks

“I Get to Live Life with a Sense of Freedom”: Sam’s COVID-19 Vaccine Story

Sep 10 2021

Sam Brooks, a public relations intern in our Greenville market, was kind enough to share his COVID-19 vaccine story. Read his firsthand thoughts below.

July 4 is one of my favorite holidays. There is nothing quite like hanging out with friends and family all day, enjoying food and watching explosions in the sky. However, a few days before July 4, 2020, I woke up feeling a little extra tired. After initially chalking it up to a bad night’s sleep, by noon I realized it was more than that. A few days later I tested positive for COVID-19. I found myself locked up at home for two weeks, spending July 4th watching a movie I don’t remember.

While my COVID-19 experience was relatively mild and I bounced back strong, I couldn’t understand how this happened. I’m a college student in my 20s who fights to stay in great shape and is arguably in their peak of physical condition. I also wore face masks and tried my best to physically distance in public settings. However, I still got sick.

When the news of a potential COVID-19 vaccine becoming available began to circulate, I did what most Americans have done over the course of the past year: I asked questions.

“How did we develop the vaccine so quick? Is it safe? Do I need to get the vaccine if I already got COVID-19 the previous year?”

I spent time talking to my doctor along with my mom who is a registered nurse, leaving no stone unturned. While my questions were answered, I still felt a tad uneasy about the vaccine. But then I thought about how I had been vaccinated as a child, how I receive the flu shot most years and how I never thought to not trust a doctor before.

In my experience, medical professionals have always had my best interest in mind and worked tirelessly to find solutions if there was a problem. In this case, my problem was there is a highly contagious virus circulating and I was going to be on a college campus, surrounded by people, in a few short months. While I believed I probably would survive a second bout with the virus, there is always the chance I wouldn’t.

Then I thought about the people I am in close contact with daily. Multiple members of my family are type-1 diabetics, what if I gave it to them? I only have one living grandparent, what if I accidently gave it to him? After weighing my options, I decided to trust the medical professionals in my life and get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Today, I have been on a college campus for almost a month now. Even though I’m wearing a mask, I’m still in close contact with many different people who could potentially have the virus. I get tested on a weekly basis at my school and have not gotten the virus again. I also feel zero effects from the vaccine I received in May of 2021. I’m enjoying my life and, outside of COVID-19 restrictions set in place in certain public settings, I get to live my life with a sense of normalcy, a sense of freedom.

While my family members are also vaccinated, being vaccinated myself gives me a great feeling of peace when I am around them. Yes, there is still a chance I get COVID-19 and I could give it to someone else. The difference now is the odds are in my favor. Where I live, from July 16 through August 15, 86 percent of all COVID-19 cases were not vaccinated and 78 percent of all deaths from COVID-19 were those who were not vaccinated. The odds of giving COVID-19 to someone I care about and them ending up on a ventilator are now very low. I’m thankful for the vaccine and the medical professionals that have fought to end this pandemic.

I understand the hesitancy with getting the vaccine, I really do. I also had questions and felt uneasy about getting a shot that was made in record time. However, if you are like me, I would ask you to do the following things.

First, talk to the medical professionals in your life, bring every question you have to them and then actually listen to their answers. Second, think about the loved ones in your life and view their health risk of getting the virus as your own. And finally, if you are a person of faith, think about who is in control of the vaccine that was made. I know this is a complex issue and I don’t want to oversimplify it. I trust God with my health, but when I get a headache, I take ibuprofen. It’s not that I don’t trust God to heal my headache, but I trust the medicine he has provided me to reduce my suffering. I have found freedom and peace in trusting that the same God who created ibuprofen to heal my headache is the same God who produced this vaccine in record time.

I want the pandemic to be over as much as anyone. I didn’t want my college experience to end in a mask, dealing with people I know getting sick. While the rise in COVID-19 cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant almost guarantees I will walk across the stage and receive a diploma in December with a mask on, I’m choosing to believe that won’t be the case when I walk into an office for my first day of my new career this spring.

Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is the best way you can avoid severe illness and protect those around you. Learn about our COVID-19 vaccine options at Bon Secours.

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