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‘How just one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine saved me’


MONIQUE Tello, a medical doctor, told her story to Harvard Health Publishing about her decision to get the Moderna vaccine and what a decision that was. Even after one dose, the vaccine protected her from the novel coronavirus. Here’s an edited version of her experience.

There’s nothing like a real-life test to drive home the need for vaccines. While I was getting my first dose, my husband was at work. We learned later that he had had a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 that very same day (ironically, he does not work in health care, but in professional sports). We went into strict quarantine right then.

Alas, seven days after his exposure, he came down with fever, chills, fatigue, congestion, cough. Two tests confirmed full-blown COVID-19. Of course, my husband wore a mask and we tried to be socially distant but with two kids in remote school, me trying to keep up with virtual clinical work, and no chance of allowing anyone in to help us, he inevitably got pulled into the day-to-day survival of the household. And seven days after his symptoms started, our 10-year-old son had fever, chills, fatigue, congestion, cough. He was also COVID-positive. And he has asthma.

Actually, both my husband and our son have asthma, but my son’s asthma was especially aggravated. He coughed and coughed. I administered his breathing treatments, sometimes in the middle of the night, and admittedly not always while wearing a mask. I couldn’t have had more continual high-risk exposure to this virus, far more high-risk than when I worked on the COVID inpatient ward in April.

But during that whole month living among highly symptomatic COVID-infected loved ones, I was being tested regularly through my hospital’s occupational health department, as well as by a clinical trial looking at vaccine effectiveness among health-care workers. I tested negative four times. One dose, three solid weeks of high-risk exposure, no infection.

I know that some folks are hesitant to receive any vaccines. Others have read the media reports on the very, very few and rare allergic reactions. It’s true that if someone has a history of a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine, they should not receive it. Otherwise, eligible adults can feel safe to roll up their sleeves. After all, a lot of people have died from COVID-19.

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