The COVID-19 vaccine provides hope for families

By Lisa Mitchell-Bennett

Silvia Garcia, a community health worker and Brownsville resident, shares her own family’s experience with COVID-19 and her thoughts about the hope provided by the vaccine.

“My family had the terrible experience of facing COVID-19 firsthand. In my fifties, I was worried about my own ability to fight the virus, but it turned out my perfectly healthy 33-year-old daughter almost lost her life to COVID-19! She is a young person, without any pre-existing medical conditions, so we never expected this to happen.”

Some members of the Garcia family came down with the virus just after the Christmas holidays.

“My daughter kept getting worse and was struggling to breathe, so we took her to the hospital. When we came to the door of the emergency room, we had no idea that it would 17 days before we would see her in person again. And we were lucky. Imagine those families who never got to see their loved one again because they didn’t survive the virus.

Garcia’s daughter was on oxygen for 21 days and still suffers from tachycardia and issues with her heart, some anxiety and the doctor says her lungs are not at full capacity even months after recovering.

“My daughter suffered horribly during those 17 days, with anxiety about not being able to breathe, not seeing her family, and being afraid and alone. I as her mother also suffered greatly. One day the hospital would call and tell me she was doing better and several hours later they would tell me she was back in crisis and struggling to breathe. She had to be medicated for her anxiety, a condition she had never had before COVID-19. It was a roller coaster I don’t want any family to have to ride on! Thank God she survived but it’s been a long battle.”

Garcia has strong feelings about the COVID vaccine and wants others to understand how important it is to avoid getting this disease at all costs.

“When you’ve been through this with your family, you know how much of a blessing it is to have the vaccine and you will do anything possible to avoid one more person or family member going through that! Sure, some people get the virus and it’s not a big deal, but more and more young healthy people are experiencing what my daughter did or worse, and you just never know how it will affect you or those you love.”

Garcia works in the community, visiting people with diabetes and other chronic diseases and helping them connect with social services and medical care.

“Honestly, the excuses for not getting vaccinated that I hear really upset me. It seems so petty to say you won’t get the vaccine because it may make you feel a little sick for a day or so, or you may have to wait a couple of hours in a line. I’ve even heard some people say they don’t need it because they are young and healthy. I say look to them, look at my daughter, she was healthy

too! We know what the virus to can do to perfectly healthy people, and millions have died from it. The vaccine can save lives and prevent suffering, and its been proven to be safer than some over the counter medications and is much safer than many risks we choose to take each day, like driving in a car, drinking alcohol, eating unhealthy food.”

Garcia continues, “The vaccine has been tested in millions of people and isn’t injecting the vaccine itself so the risks are low.”

Garcia says that it is important to get information about it from reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), and not just social media sites shared by friends.

“I just don’t think people understand how this virus can ravage your loved ones, not to mention the people who are bravely working in hospitals and on the frontline. The vaccine is providing us hope and protection so we can start moving back into living our lives together safely! To decide not to take it is like being offered a life raft out at sea and refusing to get in.”

Garcia says if you don’t take it for yourself, take it to protect those folks on the frontline and those you love, because Tu Salud ¡Si Cuenta! (Your Health Matters!)

For more information about free vaccines in our area, go to Brownsville Cares (btxcares.com) or the Cameron County Health Department website at Home – Cameron County Public Health