Staci Wale is a neighbourhood coordinator at The Village of Taunton Mills in Whitby. We thank her for sharing her story of how vaccine doubt and hesitancy was transformed to conviction. Misinformation made her question her ability to become a mother if she took the vaccine and today, she's carrying a healthy baby boy and is eager to hold him in her arms.
I can distinctly remember the day that the government announced that health care workers would be eligible (and one of the first in line) to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Regrettably, my initial reaction was not that of relief; it was actually a feeling of doubt. Due to previous long-standing health concerns, I strongly doubted my ability to get pregnant prior to the thought of taking a vaccine that had so much controversy surrounding fertility. The thought of then injecting my body without a 100% guarantee that it would not affect me negatively was terrifying. It made me second guess taking it, even though it was the light at the end of the tunnel that we were all so desperately hoping for since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
In order to quell my fears, I did what most people would do when they are looking for information; I turned to the internet. While I do pride myself on making informed decisions in my daily life, I have to say it was hard to find anything that seemed truly credible or well researched. I knew that COVID was still a novel virus that was throwing us curve balls every chance it got. I knew that we didn’t have much information to go off of and I knew that this in itself would create fear and doubt in the general public. However, I also knew that COVID was a form of Coronavirus, which was the same virus that caused SARS. I knew that SARS had been researched extensively for years and that had to count for something, right?
Most of the articles (and I use that term lightly) were filled with messages that cast more doubt onto my already growing concern about my possible infertility. After days of constant reading, my hesitancy was turning into full blown fear and I was scared to admit that. While I knew that many of these articles were not credible or contained information that was meant to instil fear into the public, I couldn’t help but let those thoughts run wild in my mind and create the exact fear they were hoping for. My dream in life has always been to one day have a child – was I really willing to risk the possibility of making this dream a reality for a vaccine that may or may not make that impossible for me? My mind was going a mile a minute!
Then came the electronic vaccine sign up that I was both excited and scared for. I clicked the link, filled in my name, and checked no for any possible allergies or reactions to vaccinations in the past. Then I saw it: “are you or could you be pregnant?”. My heart beat faster as I dishonestly clicked yes. I knew I was not pregnant, but I somehow felt that if I didn’t say yes, I would be missing an opportunity to speak to a medical professional that may be able to answer my questions. I submitted my answers and was notified that a doctor would call me shortly. Relief.
The doctor called me later that evening and he was nothing short of incredible. Not once did he rush me off of the phone or try to persuade me one way or the other. He acknowledged my fears and he answered every question I posed to him with respect and patience in his voice. It was during this conversation that something clicked for me. It was like a light bulb had finally turned on in my head. He said to me, “I can’t guarantee you anything, no one can, but what I can tell you is that if you do not get the vaccine and you get COVID, you may not live to see the day where having a child is even possible.” I had heard enough – it was in that exact moment that my doubt immediately turned into full blown conviction.
I signed up for this job to protect and serve our elders. I also signed up for this job in the hopes of following in the footsteps of my late uncle who was an angel on earth and changed so many lives of the residents he cared for. I knew that he wouldn’t hesitate to do what was needed to ensure the safety of those he loved and I think I knew that about myself all along too – all it took was a little digging. I got to ring in the New Year with a sense of optimism and hope by getting my first dose on January 1, 2021. I feel like I did my part to protect my family, my friends, my team, and my residents – and I don’t regret it for a second.
Oh yeah, one more thing… I am also incredibly happy to share that I am almost 26 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby boy. I am proof that this vaccine did not affect my chances of making my lifelong dream a reality; I’m going to be a mum. When I think about that, I still get chills and I hear that doctor’s voice in my head. I count my blessings that he called me that evening and we had that conversation when we did. Yes, it was scary and yes, there was uncertainty – but, I am alive and healthy today. This vaccine gave me the best chance to see my dreams come true with an added layer of protection. This vaccine also gave my baby the opportunity to have a safe and healthy home for the 9 months before he enters this beautiful (and sometimes crazy) world.
I feel extremely thankful that I had the privilege of receiving this vaccine, especially when there are many people who are laying in a hospital bed wishing they had done so when they had the chance. Please, don’t wait - get the vaccine!