Vaccination narration: Hospital volunteer gets access to shot

Merryl McRae expected she would get the COVID-19 vaccine because she is a substitute teacher, but instead she was offered an opportunity for the shot through her volunteer work at Allen County Regional Hospital.

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January 29, 2021 - 2:59 PM

Merryl McRaeCourtesy photo

Merryl McRae is looking forward to returning to her volunteer work with the Allen County Regional Hospital Auxiliary, after nearly a year away because of the coronavirus pandemic.

She doesn’t yet know when that may happen, but because of her affiliation with the Auxiliary, she was able to get her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last week.

“I felt pretty fortunate,” she said about receiving the vaccine.

McRae didn’t expect to get the vaccine so quickly. The state developed a priority list of those who qualify for the vaccine, based on matters like age, health condition and potential for exposure. Those who work in health care were among the first to qualify.

McRae had expected to receive the vaccine because of her affiliation with the education system, rather than the healthcare system.

She retired from teaching at Iola Middle School in 2013 and continues to work as a substitute teacher. She had signed up for a waiting list through the school district.

But when hospital officials called and offered the vaccine to its Auxiliary members, McRae decided to take them up on it. Most of the Auxiliary volunteers are elderly, which puts them at greater risk of complications from COVID-19.

The hospital stopped using Auxiliary volunteers when the pandemic began, because of the risks. Auxiliary members typically perform tasks such as answering questions at the front desk or working in the gift shop.

McRae joined the Auxiliary soon after she retired, looking for a way to give back to the community. Her mother had been an Auxiliary member, and she had fond memories of visiting the hospital while her mom volunteered. 

McRae mostly worked in the gift shop, which allowed her more personal interactions with customers. As an added bonus, it was close to the cafeteria.

She’s eager to return to her volunteer work, but realizes it could still be months before that is allowed. It will depend on how many people are vaccinated, and how quickly that can happen.

For example, even though she received a shot, her husband, John, has not. 

She also needs to receive a second dose to be fully immunized. 

RECEIVING the vaccine was a simple process, McRae said. 

The hospital offered shots to Auxiliary members in the conference room.

“It was pretty painless,” she said. “Everything was very well organized.”

The shot felt like any other immunization, she said. Her arm was a little sore at the site of the injection, but only for a few hours.

She trusts the medical and science professionals who developed and distributed the COVID-19 vaccine in record time. 

“I’m all for it. I know there are people who don’t want to get a shot and I don’t know why,” she said.

“People who are a lot smarter than me are saying it’s safe, and if it’s good enough for them, that’s good enough for me.”

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