Written by Theresa Oswald, Doctors Manitoba CEO

I believe in science. I always have. 

To be honest, when I encounter those who question the importance of getting the vaccine, I can be pretty judgey. I realize this kind of thinking lacks charity and kindness, but if I am being frank, those thoughts do cross my mind. After the year we have all endured, with so much unspeakable loss and suffering, I can’t help but think those who say, yeah, I don’t think I will get it” are a little selfish or uninformed. 

Then it was my turn. I happened to fall into an age group that had options: go to the super site to get a Pfizer shot, or try my family doctor to get AstraZeneca.

I am a woman under 55 years old, and some experts have said the AstraZeneca vaccine should give me pause. I read as much as I could, and it was clear to me the risk of a blood clot was far greater from other behaviours in my life (Hello, weekend Pinot Grigio), and from COVID itself, so the science in which I so deeply believe was shouting to me: get the shot.

But here is my truth, and I share it with you because maybe some of it is your truth, too. 

My husband died very suddenly almost three years ago, and it was a body blow from which I have not fully recovered. My son, now fifteen, means everything to me, and I find myself for the first time in my life occupied constantly by thoughts of my own death. What if it happened to me, and Jack was left alone? It’s not rational, really, and yes I sought some expert help to talk me through these intense fears, and I am grateful the situation improved. But I carry some of these thoughts with me still, in a side cupboard of my consciousness, and I think you could officially diagnose me as a worrier. I try to present myself otherwise, but it’s time for me to just be honest. I worry.

I found myself hesitating, ever so slightly, about getting the vaccine, and I was ashamed of myself for that. I share this with you today, because maybe you know someone who is just like me. If you do, I can present a very, very easy solution.

See your doctor.

I called my physician and I asked fifteen questions about Astra Zeneca, about my recent cardiac tests, about the cramps in my leg and ankle around the hardware placed there when I broke my leg two years ago, about being on the back nine of life” and most importantly, about my seemingly excessive fear of dying. 

I laid it all out there. It felt good to do it. 

Dr. Groenewald was patient and kind. She really listened. She wasn’t defensive or impatient. She was thoughtful and witty. She had an explanation and a rationale for the advice she was giving. And, she was unequivocal: get the shot. After ten minutes in her office, my fear and anxiety melted away, and I took the shot with confidence, gratitude and pride. It is absolutely right for me, and it is the very best way for me to protect my son and those I love most.

I know for sure I would not have admitted this fear and hesitancy to anyone when I was younger, out of shame of being seen as weak, or silly, or hysterical. Being strong and together is my brand. It’s who I have to be, every day, all the time. It just doesn’t happen to be the truth. 

Dr. Groenewald changed my perspective, calmed my nervous soul, and cleared my vision. Your doctor can do this for you, too, and it’s because of this simple truth that I will advocate with all of my being for more vaccine to be available for physicians to provide it directly to their patients. There are other health care providers who could easily plunge a needle into my arm, but they couldn’t give me what I really needed. Only my doctor, who knew well the struggles of my early years as a widow and my complicated heart” could look me in the eye and say this vaccine is just right for you, Theresa.”

Peace of mind, strength of purpose, and a strong, healthy body. That’s all I ever needed.