Benefits of COVID-19 vaccine outweighs risk of adverse reaction

When Denise Van Dorn got her recent COVID-19 booster, she had already experienced adverse reactions after her first two injections.

Denise Van Dorn, Behavioral Health physician practice operations manager

"The second was worse than the first, and although not horrible, it was enough to cause me to disclose my reaction and get invited to the private VIP injection room at the Sedgwick County Health Department," she says, which is a quiet place with chairs and a bed, bottled water and Benadryl.

Van Dorn, practice manager for Ascension Medical Group Via Christi’s Behavioral Health clinic, also got to spend time with an Ascension colleague who spends her days off helping Sedgwick County care for those getting the COVID vaccine.

But she wants others to know why, given her history, that she chose to get the booster and would do it again, despite it making her feel weak for the three days following.

First, she did it for herself, as a healthcare worker who has a medical condition that makes her more susceptible to the virus.

"I am also over the age of 45 and do not want to be part of the 95% of people in my age group who have a greater risk of dying from COVID if unvaccinated," Van Dorn says, noting that a breakthrough case is much better than potentially becoming a "long hauler" who suffers long-term effects from contracting the virus. "No vaccine is 100%, but I like my odds."

Second, she did it for her family and friends, a group that includes those who have medical conditions that put them at risk of contracting the virus, are too young to receive the vaccine or who have died or long haulers.

Finally, she did it for her Ascension family.

"I feel strongly that I need to do my part to make sure our associates, patients and families feel safe and protected from exposure to COVID-19," she says.

In fact, she says the only thing she would change is her timing.

"I thought I would be down for a couple of days at the most and then back in action," Van Dorn says. Instead, she was still unwell on Monday and couldn't be there to help train a new associate on her first day.

While it worked out because her team stepped in, "I would recommend scheduling your injection when you have a few slow days; just in case."

Van Dorn's parting words of advice:

"Get educated, talk to your primary care provider if you have concerns, and make the best decision for you regarding the COVID vaccine. Think about your loved ones who are at risk and who would miss your sparkle if you weren't around.

“Stay safe, wash your hands and wear your mask. After all, no vaccine is 100%."