“I would love for my young children to experience life free of the fear of COVID-19.”
It’s been over 18 months almost to the day since Monash Health treated Australia’s first COVID-19 patient. Since then, our teams have mobilised, adjusted and overcome many challenges in their professional and personal lives. While each lockdown can feel a bit harder than the last, our vaccination program brings some much-needed hope as the way back to a more normal life.
Dr Sumitha Bhaskaran, Head of General Medicine Monash Medical Centre, shared her experiences of getting vaccinated and how it’s provided a glimpse of a post-pandemic life for her and her loved ones.
Thinking back, what made you decide to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
Personally, I did not see that there was any other way to beat this virus other than getting vaccinated, and the risk of contracting COVID-19, in my opinion, was far too great!
What type of information did you rely on to decide to be vaccinated?
I relied on the recommendations from experts in the area and organisations such as the World Health Organisation – WHO. I also read reports about the efficacy and safety profile of the vaccinations. I felt I was able to make an informed decision about the vaccinations with these resources.
What was your experience like during the COVID-19 vaccination process?
It was an incredibly smooth process. There was enough information provided to me about what I needed to be aware of, side effects, for example. The jab itself was similar to the annual flu vaccinations that we have all had, and the process of booking in for the second dose was equally easy.
How did you feel, physically or emotionally, as you progressed through the process, and how do you feel now?
I was incredibly excited about being able to get the vaccination. Just like PPE, hand hygiene and social distancing, vaccinations are an extra layer of protection. The first dose of the vaccine was relatively unremarkable; however, I responded following the second dose with arm pain, fever, and body aches. These lasted for about 24 hours after my jab, and I was back to being completely normal by 48 hours. As much as the physical response was unpleasant, it was reassuring knowing that this was the body’s immune response and an indication that the vaccination was working.
Given your experience with COVID-19 vaccination, what would you like anyone who may be hesitant or concerned about vaccination to know?
I would encourage anyone having doubts to speak to a medical professional about their concerns. As a community, vaccinations are our best chance at combating this virus. As evidenced by the recent outbreaks in Victoria, we cannot afford to be complacent about this; we are still in the middle of a pandemic. To reduce the impact of COVID-19 in our communities, we need to all get vaccinated.
What does getting protected against COVID-19 represent to you?
It gives me confidence.
What types of questions have your family, friends and colleagues asked you about COVID-19 vaccination?
I’m asked whether the vaccinations are safe. Quite commonly I get asked if there is a difference between the two vaccines; Pfizer and AstraZeneca. But they’re both effective.
What are you most looking forward to doing once the community can return to a more familiar way of life?
Being able to travel with confidence both locally and internationally. I would love for my young children to experience life free of the fear of COVID-19.
It’s not too late to protect yourself and those you care for. Book your COVID-19 vaccine now to avoid disappointment by clicking here. Please ensure you get vaccinated with both doses to gain maximum protection. To find out about eligibility for the vaccine, check the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker.