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Iowa's Community Influencers Share Why They Received the COVID-19 Vaccine + Why You Should Too

COVID-19 Vaccinations

May 21, 2021

Now with multiple effective vaccines available to fight against COVID-19 and many convenient COVID-19 vaccine options, MercyOne and health care organizations across the country are working to ensure community members understand the importance of vaccination: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine brings us one step closer to the end of the pandemic. Becoming fully vaccinated allows you to return to many things that were put on hold during the pandemic. Additionally, MercyOne is highlighting why Iowans chose to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, with community members saying:

Why Iowans Chose to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

Jacquie Easley McGhee, director of community and diversity services at MercyOne Central Iowa, says, “I have done panels with individuals who have given testimony about the safety and the clinical trials which included a diverse group, of all races and all ages, to determine that it is safe for all of us. I’ve listened to medical professionals, who assure us the vaccine is the most effective way we can return to normalcy and be able to hug our loved ones.”

Darliene Paricka, clinic receptionist at MercyOne Waterloo Cancer Center, shared that her husband, her mother-in-law, her father-in-law and herself contracted COVID-19. Paricka’s husband passed away five days after being admitted, at 41 years old. Then, 31 days later, her mother-in-law passed away. “This is my truth and my reality. If a vaccine is going to save me or anyone else from that, it's 1,000% worth it in my mind."

Deandra Stanton, from Mason City, spent eight days in the hospital due to COVID-19: “When you're trying to suck down air you know this is not a pretend disease. This is not just like the flu. This is not like any of the myths that have been propagated in some other way. This is a serious, serious thing, and I spent a lot of time watching people I love and I care about suffer long-term consequences. So, I danced the dance of joy when the vaccine came out. And even though technically sometimes people said, 'Oh but you've had it, so that means you're immune!' — No, it doesn't. Now that my whole family has been vaccinated, the idea that I can sit with them this Christmas dinner or Thanksgiving dinner gives me a sense of peace I haven't had for a long time."

Caprice Jones, founder and executive director of the Fountain of Youth nonprofit in Dubuque, says he decided to get the vaccine to protect himself, his family and his community. Jones says around 100 million people had already taken the vaccine prior to his own vaccination. “That was enough for me to say well this is something I need to be a part of, instead of not being a part of, as far as making a responsible choice for myself and my family.”

Watch the video below to see why Iowans chose to get their COVID-19 vaccination:

H2 – Vaccine Options

The three vaccines approved for use in the United States at this time include the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. All three vaccines have been tested vigorously and have been determined very effective at preventing serious illness, even against the variants now circulating.

Iowans who are eligible may receive the appropriate vaccine (Pfizer for those 12 and older; Moderna and Johnson & Johnson for those 18 and older). MercyOne infectious disease specialist Dr. Ravi Vemuri encourages everyone to get their shot when they get the chance.

“The best advice we give people is whenever a COVID-19 vaccine is available to you, no matter which one it is, get it,” he said. “The vaccines are safe. They’re effective. They were tested very vigorously before they came out. They went through all of the different phases of testing that vaccines typically go through.”

At the current vaccination rate, the United States is on track to having 75-80% of the population vaccinated by the end of July, he said. “The quicker we can reach that threshold the better it is for all of us in terms of getting on the other side of this pandemic.”

And while there’s certainly a light at the end of the tunnel, Dr. Vemuri cautions Iowans against being too lax when it comes to social safety measures. These are still important public health measures even if Iowans are fully vaccinated or they aren’t mandated including: continuing to social distance where possible, keeping up regular hand washing and sanitizing and continuing to wear a mask.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine near you or get answers to common questions, visit MercyOne.org/covid19vaccine.

Count on the Greater Des Moines Partnership for economic recovery information and business and industry recommendations as the region moves forward from the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about current impacts and future trends from the DSM Forward playbooks here.

MercyOne Iowa

MercyOne is a connected system of health care facilities and services dedicated to helping people and communities live their best life. MercyOne's care providers and staff make health the highest priority. The system's clinics, medical centers, hospitals and affiliates are located throughout the state of Iowa and beyond. Headquartered in central Iowa, MercyOne was founded in 1998 through a collaboration between CommonSpirit Health and Trinity Health - two of the country's foremost, not-for-profit Catholic health organizations.