“I, as a person who caught COVID, want to let you know: COVID is real, it does have an impact on your health and well-being,” said with James Burroughs, vice president, chief equity and inclusion officer at Children’s Minnesota.
In Minn., there have been over 470,000 positive cases of COVID-19 to date. We talked with James about his COVID-19 experience and about the COVID vaccine.
Even in the winter, James likes to stay active. So, he went on a walk around a lake with a friend on Friday, Jan. 9, when the high temperature of the day was a chilly, 23 degrees. Later that weekend when he started to sniffle, sneeze and have the chills, he figured it was from the cold walk he took on Friday.
“That Monday and Tuesday, I didn’t have any symptoms,” said James. “My sneezing and sniffles were the same but not worse.”
When James went to the gym that Wednesday, he noticed his breathing was off. He was working out so he was breathing hard, but he felt like he couldn’t catch his breath. On Thursday, he received a call – one of his friends he recently saw tested positive for COVID-19.
James’ COVID-19 experience
Once James found out he had been exposed to COVID-19, his quarantine began. While his symptoms stayed mild. He started to lose his voice and lost his taste and smell the day he received his positive results.
“I had to isolate through the 20th of January,” said James. His daughter, who has sickle cell disease, had to stay with her mom to make sure they could keep her safe due to her compromised immune system.
James described his symptoms lasting only a few days and by the end of quarantine he was feeling much better – he was ready to go back to work!
The COVID vaccine
Because James is a Children’s Minnesota employee and his work is often in a clinical setting, he was on the list to get the COVID vaccine. Oddly enough, the week he found out he was positive with COVID-19, he found out it was his turn to get the vaccine. He had to wait until he was done with COVID-19 and no longer had symptoms, but then was on board to get the vaccine. James is an advocate for getting the vaccine as soon as it’s available to you.
James has spent much of his time speaking to the Children’s Minnesota community and sharing information about the COVID-19 vaccine and combating vaccine hesitancy.
“Part of vaccine hesitancy is not only one’s experience with racism or systemic racism in the health care system, it’s also a lack of knowledge,” said James.
According to CNN, “More than half of Black adults in the US remain hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine.”
James understands why people may be hesitant, but he urges those to try and learn from people they trust to become knowledgeable about the vaccine.
“If you don’t know that the testing for this vaccine has been done in a more equitable manner than some testing in the past, you may be hesitant,” James said. “In addition to that, we knew if we didn’t tell people the impact the vaccine could have on their physical abilities from a trusted source who looks like them, they may be hesitant.”
James’ advice on the COVID vaccine
James’ main advice about the vaccine: Make an informed choice about getting the vaccine.
“If you can do something that’s safe for you and make an informed decision to use the knowledge you have to reduce the impact of COVID-19, I fully support taking the vaccine,” said James.
James received the first dose of the COVID vaccine on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. “I took it and that’s based upon the knowledge, the experience of catching COVID and wanting to make sure, not only am I safe but others around me are safe as well,” James said.
“Why should I take the COVID vaccine?” virtual meeting at Children’s Minnesota
On Friday, Jan. 15, more than 120 Children’s Minnesota employees logged into the first virtual joint employee resource group (ERG) meeting of 2021. During this meeting titled “Why should I take the COVID-19 vaccine?” employees heard directly from Children’s Minnesota leaders in each of the six employee resource groups: Asian ERG, Black Employee Empowerment Network, Muslim ERG, Nurses of Color ERG, PRIDE ERG and Voces ERG.
Panelists spoke on the history of medical mistrust in communities of color, shared personal stories as to why they will take the vaccine, and provided science-based information to help individuals make an informed decision on whether or not to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
The recording of “Why should I take the COVID-19 vaccine?” is now available. Enter password: Equity123! to watch.