“It Starts With the Vaccine”: Respiratory Therapist Tywana Jackson Shares Her Story

Tywana Jackson, respiratory therapist at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center, gets the COVID-19 vaccine

Tywana Jackson, respiratory therapist at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center, explains why she decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

I’ve been stopped quite a bit the last few days. And my fellow co-workers are asking me, “Ms. Tywana, why would you get the vaccine? I’m afraid of the vaccine. What made you do that?”

Here’s why.

In December, I became one of the first employees to get the vaccine. What an honor it was to receive it. But to be fully transparent, I had some apprehension. I set aside my fears, thinking this small step of faith would not only protect myself, it would also protect others—and lead to the end of this terrible virus. Excitement started to build, as I thought about things kind of going back to normal. And I was glad to do it.

But I had a question. Not about the safety of the vaccine, because I had put my trust in the scientific data. So I assumed that was safe. But my question really went to the very core of why I decided to be in health care.

Why do we decide to be in health care?  Most of us will respond with, I want to help people. I want to help people get well.

Well, if that’s true, are you really willing to be a true frontline hero? We like to be recognized as such. It sounds so important. And we may like the perks that go along with it – a discount here, a discount there. What about the reality of being a frontline hero? What does it really mean to be on the frontline?

Hopefully, my answer to this will help you to understand why I got the vaccine and help persuade you to do likewise.

Prior to 2020, when we thought of frontline heroes, we often thought of our police officers ready to respond to any dangerous situation. We thought about firefighters who are ready at the ring of the bell to respond to blazing fires, rushing in the darkness, rescuing those who are trapped. Or even our soldiers of all ranks in our military, standing shoulder to shoulder, ready with their weapons, charging into battle to protect us. To serve and to respond to any needs of our nation. United, together, one mission, one clarion call.

But now, this is a medical crisis. And we cannot call on those valiant men and women to respond to this fight. This fight is ours. In this fight, we must be the leaders. This time, it is us, the medical community, that must stand like frontline soldiers, united. One mission, one call.

We must be ready to charge into this medical crisis, united as never before. Our whole health care community — our doctors, nurses, therapists like myself, technicians, housekeeping, lab, pharmacy workers — everyone must unite in an unprecedented way. And collectively stand to defeat that enemy of COVID, which has cast darkness and devastation across our whole world.

We must unite with our weapons. Not batons and guns. Not hoses and axes. But stethoscopes, ventilators, medication, X-rays, lab work, oxygen. Lead the way. We cannot ask other front liners to do what we have been trying to do. We cannot influence our community if we don’t lead ourselves. It is our time to shine.

Let’s shine a bright pathway toward ending the virus. It starts with the vaccine. And then our community can follow us. Join me in taking the vaccine, so that you truly will be a frontline hero.

Lead the way, so that others in the face of darkness can see a light shining through us.

Thank you. Stay safe.