Dr. Aparna here to answer: This question just warms our hearts. And hits home for all of us here at Dear Pandemic.
TL; DR: You can support by donating money, donating time/resources, following public health guidance, and learning more about local efforts (and vaccine distribution) so that you can be a vaccine ambassador during this pandemic.
👩🏾⚕️ On a personal note, I have also often wondered, “What more can I do?” As a nurse and a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, I have been providing care for children and families since 2011, long before I had heard of COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, I have seen first-hand its impact on the well-being of the families whom I serve. As a nurse, a provider, and an educator, I have been deeply concerned about what our nurses and nursing students are experiencing right now. In May 2020, my amazing colleagues started a support program for nurses at our University and I have had the privilege to provide emotional support for our frontline staff alongside an amazing team of volunteers through this program.
💉 When it became apparent that the vaccine was coming to our health system, our Dean led our faculty to volunteer to directly serve at our vaccination sites. Since December 18, 2020, I have had the deep honor of volunteering weekly at one of the hospitals in our health system, which is disproportionately impacted by the care of COVID-19 patients. At the site, I am able to help in any number of ways, from working with students, to checking in staff, to observing individuals after vaccination, and to vaccinating individuals. As a nurse, I am so grateful that I can support our frontline staff in this way. In some sense, the sights and sounds of the vaccine clinic could be any other vaccine clinic. But, the emotional response of staff when they get the vaccine, the fear among individuals about getting the vaccine, and the excitement at what we are all doing together is something that is hard to describe. At the vaccine clinic, I, and my fellow faculty members, are able to teach people about the vaccine and side effects, we are able to answer questions for people about what to expect, and we are able to draw on our experience as nurses to improve the efficiency of logistics and operations at the vaccine site. But more than this, we are able to be ambassadors. I can tell people that I held that liquid gold (as my colleagues affectionately call it) in my hand, drew it up, and helped someone get the vaccine. I can tell people that I was able to support our students to serve as vaccinators. And I can continue to share that I will wait my turn for my vaccine, but I will get it when it is my time. Because I want to support those who are taking care of our COVID-19 patients each and every day and will continue to do so.
This is just my story. And yours is so unique and impactful too.
Regardless of what you can do, here are a few simple actions that many of us can take:
💰DONATING MONEY: While there are numerous efforts around the country and across the globe, check in with organizations that you support (a local nursing home, children’s hospital, or shelter) so that you can make some real time impact.
⌛ DONATING TIME/RESOURCES: Many states have volunteer opportunities on their state Department of Health Website (An example of volunteering to do contact tracing in Pennsylvania) Individuals can also register to volunteer (even if they do not have a healthcare background) for the Medical Reserve Corps either at the local (For Example in Philadelphia) or COVIDReadi , or federal level (For Example).
😷 FOLLOW PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDANCE: As we wait for the vaccine and even after we get it, it is important to remember the things that we CAN do. We can continue to #StaySMART and remember the basics of space, masks, air, restricting contacts, and reducing time with other contacts. We can also remind others to do this (especially as many are feeling the fatigue of restrictions).
ℹ️ LEARN MORE ABOUT LOCAL EFFORTS: It is critical to know what your state is doing as well as your county. Seek information about what phase your county is in, where vaccines are offered, local statistics (how many vaccines have been distributed and given) and how one can sign up to get a vaccine. Local and State Departments of Public Health will have information on vaccine dosing, what to expect after getting a vaccine, and how to check in after a vaccination about scheduling a second dose as well as side effects. By knowing this information you can share it with others and empower them with knowledge about vaccination.
🕊️ No matter what you do, it can make a difference, no matter how small it seems. I know this as I have received so many statements of gratitude out at the vaccination site. And we feel this in the kind words you leave us every day. Thank you to all of you for being champions for good information in this pandemic.
Stay safe. Stay Sane.
#COVID19 #Vaccination #Volunteering
Dr. Aparna and Those Nerdy Girls
Link to Recent Saturday Live Event with Nerdy Girls Ashley and Malia answering the question of how to help (16:08-20:59)