On Saturday, January 30, the Crater Health District administered the Covid-19 vaccine for Groups 1A and 1B at Prince George High School. Group 1A consists of health-care workers and long-term care residents. Group B includes people aged 65 and over, those 16-64 with high risk health conditions, and front-line workers.
One of those health-care workers receiving her first dose of the vaccine was Mia Norman, Class of 2010.
“I am hopeful that as we increase in production, distribution, and administration of the vaccines, that it becomes easier to communicate dose availability and access,” Norman said. “I think the most important thing for a person to do is make sure they know where they fall within the tiers, research where to sign up for their dose when it is available to do so, and know who to reach out to for help if needed. The Virginia Department of Health has the most accurate and up to date information at this time about the phase we are in, and what locations are available to offer it when the time comes.”
Norman has been a health care worker ever since she graduated from high school.
“I have been working in health care for the majority of my life,” Norman said. “Shortly after I graduated high school, I enrolled in an EMT program and got my EMT-B certification. I truly fell in love completely with healthcare and helping others, and decided to change my original plans of going to college for archaeology, and decided to pursue nursing wholeheartedly. I graduated from nursing school in 2019 and have never regretted it.”
As with many other jobs also, the benefits you get from nursing are not just physical.
“Whether it is a patient, family member, or even a co-worker, I know that I have the ability to affect the way they feel in a positive way,” Norman said. “I can help them to feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally; I can help them with tasks to reduce their workload and stress level, and I can be there in whatever way that I am needed so I know that every day when I clock out that I have really made an impact. I am often seeing people during some of the worst days of their lives, so knowing I can make it even just a little bit better is my favorite part of this job.”
After COVID-19 began to heavily impact the US last march, all health care jobs began to change very quickly.
“My job has completely changed because of COVID-19,” Norman said. “My hospital halted all elective surgeries, ended the contracts with travel nurses, and furloughed prn staff members, so we were working with more patients but fewer staff members. We had to learn new rules regarding personal protective equipment that seemed to change throughout the shift.”
One focus as the pandemic progressed was its impact on mental health. This is especially impactful to the health care workers.
“The stress, workload, and emotions were the highest they had been for almost everyone,” Norman said. “I was really proud of myself and all of my coworkers as we pulled together and worked with each other.”
With health-care workers being in the top tier for vaccination, many had to make the decision to decide if they wanted to get the vaccine.
“I have been learning about new health-care methods, vaccine protocols, and immunity in general for most of my education – I felt comfortable and confident in getting the vaccine,” Norman said. “I trust the studies, trials, and science behind the medication and believe in the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services. I know that this is an important step to take in protecting myself, the people I care about, and the community at large and know that getting these two injections are far preferable to getting infected with Covid.”
For anyone who wants to get the vaccine, there are hopefully more and more opportunities becoming available soon.
“This vaccine has been unlike any other vaccine that I have given or received in the emotional reaction that I, and others have had,” Norman said. “The happiness, relief, and hope for the future that I felt when I was able to say that I would have a greater than 94% immunity after the two weeks post-injection was wonderful; and each person that I have vaccinated myself has expressed similar gratitude. I have seen people cry while getting the shot, saying they are close to seeing specific family members again, and I have been thanked profusely countless times for providing the injections, as everyone is so genuinely excited for this and what it means for the future.”
Although no longer a member of the Prince George community, Norman saw it as a wonderful opportunity to get the vaccine in a familiar atmosphere.
“Once I saw that there was a clinic going on at my alma mater, I knew I had to go here,” Norman said. “Although it is a bit of a drive now, I always enjoy the opportunity to come back to the place I grew up, see what has changed and what has stayed the same, and revisit memories that have made me who I am. As this place, and the areas around it have held so many firsts for me, it only made sense for it to be the place I got my first full immunization against the pandemic.”