By James Johnson, Service Coordination supervisor, Forensic Team
Having the opportunity to be one of the few people in the world to be vaccinated is wonderful. I wish my family would have had the opportunity to be vaccinated the same day I got vaccinated.
I felt mixed emotions at first because my wife and two daughters haven’t had the opportunity to receive the vaccine and here I am receiving it. I do not have such a mixed emotion anymore because I know once I’m protecting myself by vaccination, I am protecting my family as well as people I come across daily, including the staff at Pittsburgh Mercy.
Now that I am vaccinated, I am not taking anything for granted. I still use my mask, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and wash my hands frequently. I know if this vaccine would have been created earlier, it would have prolonged or saved some lives. I came to America from Africa and my wife is from Mexico. Billions of people in the world are waiting to be vaccinated and have no clue when or where or how they will get a vaccination. Many have the dream of receiving the vaccine but not all will live to see that day come, though.
I remembered the history of Sister Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy shortly before receiving my vaccine. The Sisters of Mercy traveled the world to serve the poor and provided free health care in a time of tuberculosis and cholera, which ended up killing some of the Sisters, including Sister Catherine McAuley. There was no cure or vaccine during that era. They knew the danger, yet they put aside their lives to save others. We can follow the Sisters of Mercy’s footsteps not by putting our lives aside to save others literally, as they did, but by using a mask, practicing social distance, using PPE, and getting the vaccine when available. By doing so, you are protecting yourself, loved ones, and the world.
I had the opportunity to go on the Sisters of Mercy pilgrimage in 2017, sponsored by McAuley Ministries, to meet with some of the Sisters, as well as touching some of the things Sister McAuley touched. It’s a reflection I cannot get out of my mind—the sacrifices and hardship they endured for us to enjoy the universities, the hospitals, and health care they built, including Pittsburgh Mercy. They built these hospitals and health care so you and I can have a better life, better health care, and receive vaccinations when available. I am happy to be vaccinated!!!