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April 8, 2021
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David Burda Lindsay H. Morrison Edward W. Marx
COVID-19 Outcomes
Blogs Dispatches

Relief As Appointments Open Up: Stories of the Vax

More first-person stories from the 4sight Health team regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

Into the World Again

By Ed Marx
Vax Day: Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Location: Texas

Photo by Ed Marx

As news of the vaccine distribution seemed imminent, my wife and I gathered as much information as we could and stayed actively engaged. There are three of us left in our household, my wife Simran and our youngest daughter, a 17-year-old with asthma. Simran is a nurse, I’m a cancer and widow-maker survivor, so we all qualified for the first wave. We dutifully registered early January with our county and awaited further instructions.

A few weeks lagged before our pediatrician called. They had the vaccine and would go ahead and begin the two-shot series with our daughter. We were pretty happy to get our daughter protected, at least. We travel a fair amount, so we were anxious for this extra layer of protection.

Simran and I received texts in late January that the county was now prepared to do mass vaccination events. Simran and I received our first dose on January 26, 2021. It was a non-event, as we expected. After testing COVID negative, we headed for the Galapagos Islands for some extreme social distancing while exploring nature.

In early February, our daughter received her second shot. As advertised, she felt pretty sick the following day but bounced back quickly. Simran and I received dose two in mid-February. We also experienced minor discomfort the following day but since that time, we have felt great.

We received another COVID negative test and went on to Puerto Rico to explore the rain forests, while maintaining appropriate safety protocols. Even though we are vaccinated, we remain vigilante. We are off to the Inca Trail next month for more social distancing and enjoying nature.

As global citizens, we believe we must be vigilant and safe while at the same time, live. While some parts of the world may be able to shut down, the economies of smaller countries and the livelihood of many people are at stake. Travel can be done safely and the world is better for it. Get vaccinated as soon as you qualify, continue to follow safety protocols and live life.

Ed Marx is a 4sight Health Contributor, the Chief Digital Officer for Tech Mahindra Health and Life Sciences, former Chief Information Officer at the Cleveland Clinic, and a leader at several health systems.

My Lingering COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

By David Burda
Vax Day: March 19, 2021
Location: Chicago, Illinois

As I write this, my immediate family is almost fully vaccinated from COVID-19. Here’s the scorecard:

  • Me: 1 of 2 doses
  • My wife: 2 of 2 doses
  • My daughter: 2 of 2 doses
  • My oldest son: 1 of 2 doses
  • My youngest son: 1 of 2 doses
  • My mom: 2 of 2 doses
  • My sister: 1 of 2 doses

Thanks to Pfizer, the Cook County (Ill.) Health Department, the DuPage County (Ill.) Health Department, Northwestern Medicine, Edward-Elmhurst Health and Elmhurst University for helping protect our mask-wearing, social-distancing, hand-washing and science-believing bubble from this deadly virus.

So far, none of us has had any medical side effects from the vaccine to speak of. A few sore arms and no more than 24 hours of feeling like you had the flu for others.

Photo provided by Columnist Dave Burda, here caught in the wild getting his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

However, I did have an emotional side effect after I got my first dose of the vaccine a few weeks ago. It was a mix of guilt and anger.

As I sat in the observation area for the required 15 minutes, I looked around the room of about 40 to 50 people and realized that I was one of the youngest if not the youngest person waiting to be sprung. The room was filled with people in their seventies, eighties and nineties. I’m sure a few were Centenarians.

At 60, I guess my high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high BMI were finally good for something as I qualified to get vaccinated in Illinois as a 1B+.

What I was angry about was that the room wasn’t filled with 16-year-olds who, once vaccinated, could go back to in-class learning in high school. I was angry that the room wasn’t filled with 18-year-olds who, once vaccinated, could go to college or work after graduating high school. I was angry the room wasn’t filled with 22-year-olds who, once vaccinated, could go on job interviews after graduating college.

I know the science says to vaccinate the most vulnerable first, and that’s the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. I get that, and I don’t have a problem with it. But for me, I would much have preferred to give my first and second doses away to the young.

I can keep myself safe or as safe as possible until my turn comes. I work from home. I limit my trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, gas station and hardware store. I double mask. I use hand sanitizer. The young have a lot less control over their environment and themselves. They’re young. And, even though they’re at low risk for a severe or deadly case of COVID, they have a lot more to lose—like 60 years or more—if it does happen.

I cringe every time I hear or read that there’s been only one pediatric flu death this flu season and how wonderful that is from a public health lens. I get it from an epidemiological standpoint. But if that was your kid, it’s your entire world and nothing else really matters.

Reading this story in the New York Times, “Fully Vaccinated and Time to Party: If You Are 70,” and watching this Saturday Night Live bit, “Boomers Got the Vax,” only ratcheted up my guilt and anger.

Thankfully, the vaccine supply is catching up with demand, and all the 16-year-olds in high school, 18-year-olds going to college or work and 22-year-olds looking for jobs are getting immunized.

Last year about this time, I asked my mom, who turns 83 this year, what she would want us to do in case she got sick and needed a ventilator, and there was a ventilator shortage as hospitalizations of severely ill COVID patients began to climb. Without hesitating, she said to give her ventilator to someone young because she’s had a good life.

We got the science right. But to me, we got our priorities wrong.

David Burda is 4sight Health’s News Editor and Columnist. He’s our biggest news junkie and healthcare historian, covering healthcare since 1983. He writes a monthly column, weekly blogs, and hosts the 4sight Friday Roundup podcast.


Surpassing My Low Expectations

By Lindsay Morrison
Vax Day: April 1, 2021
Location: Bartlett, Illinois

I’m not a boomer, I’m relatively healthy and I can work from home on my computer. I cheer for my essential, healthcare, education, boomer, health-compromised friends as they get shots. I’d put my college kids ahead of me in an instant so they can get back to life.

I’ve kept my expectations for getting vaccinated really low. Working with optimists, the end of 2021 date crept up to fall 2021, maybe even July 4. I’ve struggled.

On April 19, everyone in Illinois 16+ will be eligible.

On the Hunt

To get ready for April 12, I joined the Chicago Vaccine Hunters group on Facebook on March 24. Within 5 days, I guided seven eligible friends to appointments. The husband of a college roommate, a neighbor, my spouse, a former co-worker with severe co-morbidities who I haven’t seen in 15 years. Nothing serious, I’m not getting online at 11:55 p.m. for CVS, or 5:55 a.m. for Walgreens. I’m not the Vaccine Angel who has helped 347 people get appointments, and I’m not taking a shot from someone in front of me.

April 1, the end of the day, I check Facebook. I see a post about a vaccine drive in the next county over that has too many shots, too few people signed up, they’ll take anyone over 18, any eligibility. I’ll take a dose that would be wasted.

The event is at a temple I don’t know, Umiya Mataji Temple, and it’s 45 minutes away. I’d get there with 90 minutes left in the drive, but would they have doses?

I ask my 19-year-old, “Do you want to try?” We throw on shoes and masks, grab water bottles, put the address into google maps. We listen to the soundtrack of Baby Driver, a musical heist movie. The movie’s main character is the getaway driver, so for us it’s aspirational.

The Light At the End of the Tunnel

I think it’s a stretch to call Bartlett a Chicago suburb. It’s past the suburban sprawl, mostly homes and greenery along state routes, even a few barns. Definitely no public transportation. We almost miss the left turn lane into the place.

This is what we see.

I never could have expected this.

We’re directed into what we read is the Haveli, a large assembly hall with wooden floors and chandeliers – maybe half of a football field big? Dozens of young men in white shirts and dark pants direct us to registration at tables staffed by women in matching saris. One table to register, one for health questions and temperature. My registrar corrects herself after calling me a patient — she tries client, visitor, guest, and we agree on “people who care about others.”

We’re seated in 1 of 12 lines of chairs, all facing forward, all spaced 6’ apart. A nurse and helper push a cart up and down each aisle, asking each of us a few questions before giving us our shot. (Moderna) It’s so well run, and so pleasant. I can’t really believe it’s happening.

But That’s Not All, Folks

There’s a doctor out there who gives vaccinations and keeps the customers rolling with his jokes. (Photo courtesy of www.bapscharities.org/usa/)

An older man picks up a microphone, at the front, takes off his mask, and introduces himself as the medical director for the sponsoring healthcare organization. He says he’s going to give us important information about the vaccine. The volunteers applaud; he’s clearly part of the community. And he’s really comfortable in front of a crowd, and really happy to have a mic.

Doctor tells us that all the vaccines are really good, you can’t beat 100% prevention of hospitalizations and deaths. We should thank the scientists and the government, and everyone part of making them. He reminds us how long we need to wait after the shot, when we should come back, that we can’t let our guard down yet.

But he doesn’t just give information. He peppers his remarks with vaccine jokes.

I did not expect comedy.

“If you want privacy, we have booths back there, let us know. But if you want to show off your muscles, definitely stay out here.”

“Take off your coat before you sit down. We could vaccinate your coat but then you’d have to wear it all the time, and the weather’s finally getting nice.”

“Make sure you pull up your sleeve so the nurse can give the shot. We have a hole punch we could use for your shirt, it’s even heart shaped, but sometimes it takes some skin.”

“You have to wait here 15 minutes after you get your shot. The only way to leave before that is to bribe me. And I’m doctor, I don’t need your money

“If you have to travel when you’re supposed to come back in 28 days, wear a mask. Buy me a first-class ticket, I’ll come anywhere in the world to give you your second shot. That’s the kind of service we provide.”

“You’re not fully protected until two weeks after the second shot. So I don’t want to see you out clubbing, especially you!” (Pointing to the lady pushing 80 and pushing a walker.)

If you were 14 to 22 years old and this was your dad, you’d be rolling your eyes. I look at my 19-year-old in the next row, and he’s laughing.

As we’re walking out, my son says, “That guy’s got a tight five, and some of his jokes were even funny. Don’t forget to tip your server!” We make a donation.

Honestly, it was the best live show I’ve been to in… 13 months. And the best live comedy I’ve seen in a decade.

All of it, timing, location, organization and entertainment, was beyond my wildest expectations. I’m looking forward to going back in 28 days. The doctor is there every Thursday.

Lindsay H. Morrison is Managing Director at 4sight Health, and a key member of our editorial team, working closely with all our contributors. She keeps the 4sight Health team in line, juggles all our great content and builds great relationships with clients.

About the Authors

David Burda

David Burda began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes this monthly column “Burda on Healthcare,” contributes weekly blog posts, manages our weekly newsletter 4sight Friday, and hosts our weekly Roundup podcast. Dave believes that healthcare is a business like any other business, and customers — patients — are king. If you do what’s right for patients, good business results will follow.

Dave’s personnel experiences with the healthcare system both as a patient and family caregiver have shaped his point of view. It’s also been shaped by covering the industry for 40 years as a reporter and editor. He worked at Modern Healthcare for 25 years, the last 11 as editor.

Prior to Modern Healthcare, he did stints at the American Medical Record Association (now AHIMA) and the American Hospital Association. After Modern Healthcare, he wrote a monthly column for Twin Cities Business explaining healthcare trends to a business audience, and he developed and executed content marketing plans for leading healthcare corporations as the editorial director for healthcare strategies at MSP Communications.

When he’s not reading and writing about healthcare, Dave spends his time riding the trails of DuPage County, IL, on his bike, tending his vegetable garden and daydreaming about being a lobster fisherman in Maine. He lives in Wheaton, IL, with his lovely wife of 40 years and his three children, none of whom want to be journalists or lobster fishermen.

Lindsay H. Morrison

On the 4sight Health team, Lindsay applies her passion for improving healthcare, constant curiosity, and excitement about connecting ideas and people. Clients appreciate her ability to listen, find core needs, and build communications that resonate with various audiences. She enjoys solving communication challenges for audiences and industries undergoing tremendous change.

Lindsay also keeps the trains running at 4sight Health, managing our editorial production and publishing schedule, guiding 4sight Health new services to fruition, keeping thinkers and writers organized. She’s the primary contact on many client relationships, making sure our work meets expectations.

During two decades Lindsay directed marketing communications for a media data company as the media and advertising industry went through the digital revolution. Advancing from many-to-1 to 1-1 digital communications, she built content marketing and marketing automation as core competencies. She also marketed proprietary data on the media habits of various professional healthcare audiences.

Earlier, at a healthcare communication agency, Lindsay led creative teams developing branding and positioning strategies, user and employee communications, primarily in the diagnostic industry. Her career launched from a literature and writing degree at Northwestern University, then writing marketing and training materials for a business data company moving from print to digital delivery.

Outside 4sight Health, she likes to get her hands dirty in the garden, reads too much dystopian fiction, finds small ways to improve her community, and considers dark chocolate a food group.

Edward W. Marx

Edward W. Marx is Divurgent’s Chief Executive Officer, leading the company’s advisory services focus, managing key operations, and contributing to growth strategies and client relationships.

Ed served as the Chief Digital Officer for Tech Mahindra Health and Life Sciences, in charge of digital strategy and execution for providers, payors, pharma and bio-tech. He was Chief Information Officer at Cleveland Clinic, an $11B health system with facilities in Florida, Nevada, Toronto, Abu Dhabi and London. Prior to joining Cleveland Clinic, Ed served as CIO for The Advisory Board/NYC Health & Hospitals, Texas Health Resources and University Hospitals. Concurrent with his healthcare career, he served 15 years in the Army Reserve as a combat medic and combat engineer officer.

Ed is a Fellow of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. He has won numerous awards, including HIMSS/CHIME 2013 CIO of the Year, and has been recognized by CIO and Computer World as one of the “Top 100 Leaders.” Becker’s named Marx as the 2015 “Top Healthcare IT Executive” and the 2016 “17 Most Influential People in Healthcare.”

Ed is the author of 5 books including the 2019 healthcare bestseller Voices of Innovation. His 2020 book Healthcare Digital Transformation; How Consumerism, Technology and Pandemic are Accelerating the Future quickly became a bestseller. In 2022, Ed’s working on another book about the patient experience. He is active on boards and speaks globally as a Partner in Marx & Marx LLC.

Edward received his Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Master of Science in design, merchandising, and consumer sciences from Colorado State University. He is married to Simran and they have five children and four grandchildren. Both wellness fanatics, they love to work out together and hike throughout the world. Edward is a 7-year member of TeamUSA Triathlon and represents his country at championship events around the world. In the spring of 2022, Ed walked the Camino de Santiago with his two sisters in gratitude, reflection and prayer for themselves and others who are fighting cancer, have won, or are now set free.

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