When the COVID-19 vaccine was approved last winter for emergency use, Kynis Douglas of Human Resources was skeptical.
mRNA was not a term she had heard before. Add to that she’s been in good health most of her life and had been practicing physical distancing, handwashing, masking and limited social interactions.
That perspective changed with a simple phone call. Her 80-year-old father, George, was being rushed to the hospital from his residence in California. The reason—complications from COVID-19.
Douglas didn’t even know he was COVID positive. Twelve hours later, her father—an Army veteran with a similar personality to that of his only child, was gone. She said her goodbyes on video.
“That brought me some peace because I was able to physically lay my eyes on him and talk to him,” Douglas said. “There was a little bit of closure there. Even if I had been with him, I wouldn’t have been able to come in the hospital.”
Two months after his death, Douglas and her family held a service at West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery to honor his memory. Still, Douglas wanted to do something more. She decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine to pay tribute to her father’s legacy.
“I’m not a scientist, a researcher or a clinician,” Douglas said. “The vaccine represented something tangible that I could do not only to protect myself but also to prevent others from having to experience that type of loss.”
Douglas acknowledges her initial hesitancy and reflects that getting vaccinated is a personal decision that people should take seriously. Just before her father’s death, Douglas had been contacted about consenting for her father to receive the vaccine. Unfortunately, he contracted the virus and died before that could happen.
“In some ways, I feel like I’m taking the vaccine for him,” Douglas said. “It’s an opportunity he didn’t have.”