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After the vaccine, nurse feels like 'superhero'

Credit Courtesy Photo
Jamina Washington and her mother, Janice, in 2019.

There are over 370,000 people in Michigan who have finished both doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

"I kind of feel like I'm a little bit of a superhero," said Jamina Washington, a labor and delivery nurse from Ypsilanti. She got her second shot of the Pfizer vaccine in early January.

"I just want to walk around, flashing my card like it's a badge of honor or something to have completed our doses."

Washington spoke with Michigan Radio's Rachel Ishikawa about her decision to get the vaccine and how it has affected her life since. 

Deciding to Get the Vaccine

"I was thinking, like a lot of people, that this was kind of a rushed thing. Another thing is that I am a Black woman and I know my history as a Black person in this country as far as medicine being tested on slaves against their will. I'm sure you're familiar with the Henrietta Lacks story. And the racial disparities have really been brought up with this pandemic.

"So it really made me think initially, like, oh, my gosh, I don't want to be that guinea pig.

" I had a coworker whose father is a pharmacist or used to be a pharmacist. She's Black as well. And she just really laid it out for me. It just really got me thinking. Yeah, I don't want to miss this opportunity. If I don't take it now, it could be months from now before I have it.

"My family members won’t be vaccinated for a while. The children are doing virtual schooling right now. I'm the one that's doing 12 to 16 hour shifts and seeing so many patients a night. So there's a chance that I'm going to be exposed and bring it home to my family.

"That was kind of my thought process with going from I'm going to wait, to I need to do this. I need to do this for me. I need to do this for my family."

After the Vaccine

"I am seeing my mother a little bit more. Pre-pandemic, she's a very integral part of our family. She's helped me raise my kids.  So here we are a year later and we're just now really getting to to see her again.

"Of course - and I didn't take any offense to it - but she didn't want to be around me. I can understand that. I'd feel terrible if I got her sick.

"I mean, it's just kind of this unspoken thing, but I can tell she feels a little more comfortable being around me or coming close to me or actually just giving a giving each other a hug and not doing an air high-five. I really feel like we can actually have that contact. That's been really special."

Although Washington will hug her mom since getting the vaccine, she’s still very cautious. She always takes into account her work interactions and other outside activities before seeing her mom. As she puts it, they’re “careful and not comfortable.”

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Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.
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