April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I Was Supposed to Get My Vaccine; Instead I Got COVID

As a frontline healthcare worker and clinician, I was slated to get my vaccine now, but life threw a curveball at me and I contracted COVID-19 instead. It has been nine months of going to work, sending my kids to school, forgoing family gatherings, weighing all the risks associated with doing anything or going anywhere we wanted to go. Quite frankly, I am exhausted. Nine months ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. It was the height of the pandemic when the country did not yet know what was about to unravel. We survived, we trudged on, we did all the things families with young kids did in these times—the Zoom schooling, the quarantine activities, the FaceTiming with loved ones. We stayed as safe as we could under the circumstances.

Over the past few weeks, I have been seeing a lot of colleagues, friends and family who are healthcare workers (Group 1a, as they are called) post pictures on social media of themselves getting vaccinated. I could not be happier for them. There is a vaccine, and we are getting it! And group 1a deserves this. We all do. But where are the pictures of all the people stuck at home in isolation because they have contracted the virus? Where are the pictures from the beginning of the pandemic of a parent waving to their child from the door because they can’t hug them? It is still happening. I am here to tell you that it is still happening.

The CDC lists depression and anxiety as possible symptoms of COVID-19. But is it really a neurological imbalance or a shift in brain function that can cause these symptoms? Or is it simply because of the stigma associated with contracting the virus? Someone actually reached out to me and said, “I hope you were not gathering in large crowds.” The stigma that “anyone who is still contracting the virus 10 months after it first erupted in the States is getting it because they are not being careful” is crazy! Stigma can cause depression. Fear of what others may think can actually cause anxiety. Feelings brought on by how people react to others can cause depression and anxiety.

My job has this idea that they need to “hide” whoever contracts the virus, whether patient or teammate. I have been out of work, and I’m being told to “keep it quiet.” Why? This needs to be stopped. People need support. People need to feel less alone, and maybe then, JUST MAYBE, the rates of depression and anxiety will drop back down.

My days in isolation have been going by. It has been rough, but I thank my friends, colleagues and family who have been available whether by phone, FaceTime, Zoom, social media or even window visits. But I am a clinician. I know the effects of isolation, so I fight to protect myself from those feelings I all too often hear my patients talk about. What about all of those who are not as fortunate as I am to realize they would benefit from that support, or simply don’t know how to get it?

Please, reach out to those people. Continue to reach out to your friends and family you have not heard from. Because maybe, just maybe, you can help rid the stigma.

This pandemic is not over. And NO, the people still contracting the virus are NOT people who weren’t being careful. They are simply people who are trying to live their lives as best possible in this crazy world we are living in. Let’s not help people become part of that depression/anxiety statistic. Let’s help lower it.


Rachel Salamon is a licensed clinical social worker in the Bronx. She received her MSW degree at Columbia University and went on to receive her clinical license. She works as the lead renal social worker in a dialysis clinic. She also provides in-home mental health counseling to homebound seniors. Rachel resides in White Plains with her husband and three young children. To contact Rachel please email [email protected].

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