For more than a year, our communities have done their part to fight COVID-19.
We have stayed home, worn masks when we’ve gone out, been extra careful with washing our hands and avoided large gatherings. That’s meant that holidays and birthdays have looked a little different, all so we can stay safe and healthy.
The separation and fear have been draining, and many of us have dealt with loneliness and stress as we worry about our health and our loved ones.
But now we have something to celebrate. Hope has arrived in the form of the COVID-19 vaccine. All Georgians age 16 or older are now eligible to get their shots.
At Wellstar, we've chosen to lead by example. Across our health system, frontline healthcare workers and leadership have "stuck it to COVID." Whether they want to gather with friends and family, travel to a new destination or eventually be able to go in public without a mask, our Wellstar team members all have their #MyWhy — the reason they chose to get vaccinated.
For Dr. Jeffrey Hines, chief of gynecologic oncology for Wellstar, getting the shot was about a sense of responsibility. As medical director of the Wellstar Center for Health Equity, Dr. Hines works to ensure our underserved populations have access to the care they need to stay safe and healthy. He got the COVID-19 vaccine to protect those around him.
“I’m a father, I’m a husband, I’m a brother and I’m a grandfather, and it’s important for me to protect my family,” Dr. Hines said. “I understand the science, and the science is important, but equally important to me is I want to be a trusted voice to people in the community who are most at risk for this and perhaps may have the most questions.”
Dr. Sophia McIntyre, senior vice president of Wellstar Medical Group, also said she got her shot to stop the spread, noting that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected minority communities.
“The reason why I got the COVID-19 vaccine is to ensure that I’m doing my part to bend the curve,” Dr. McIntyre said. “We know that African Americans and Latino Americans are dying at a higher proportion.”
Dr. Danny Branstetter, Wellstar’s medical director for infection prevention, has been at the forefront of Wellstar’s work to fight COVID-19 and keep our communities safe. Now, he wants to see life return to normal, because health isn’t just about your body. It’s also about your personal connections and overall well-being.
“I’m tired of being separated from my friends and family. I’m tired of seeing small businesses fold,” Dr. Branstetter said. “I’m tired of seeing the increased burden this places on those without resources. I’m tired of the loneliness this puts on those who are isolated and the elderly. My question is, aren’t you tired, too?”
All of us play a part in ending this pandemic.
“We’re in this together, and we can end this together through vaccination,” Dr. Branstetter said.
To find a vaccination site near you, visit the Georgia Department of Public Health website. Wellstar is also offering the vaccine at several convenient locations around metro Atlanta, and appointments can be made online.