Disclaimer: At UPMC HealthBeat, we strive to provide the most up-to-date facts in our stories when we publish them. We also make updates to our content as information changes. However, education about COVID-19 can shift quickly based on new data, emerging variants, or other factors. The information in this story was accurate as of its publish date. We also encourage you to visit other reliable websites for updated information, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and your state and local governments.
When Brenda Barnes first heard about the COVID-19 vaccine, she didn’t want to get it.
Brenda felt hesitant about the vaccine at first because of how quickly scientists developed it. She also worried about potential side effects because she has diabetes and high blood pressure.
“I was like, OK, let me sit back, watch a little bit more, and see what everybody else’s reactions are,” says Brenda, who lives in Mount Oliver. “I talked with my husband, talked with my family, talked with my doctor, and we finally made that decision to go ahead and get it done.”
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In May, Brenda received the COVID-19 vaccine at UPMC’s vaccination clinic on Pittsburgh’s South Side.
“[I’m looking forward to] getting out a little bit more,” Brenda says. “I used to be able to walk a lot more. Nowadays, with COVID, you’re a little bit hesitant when people walk past you and if they don’t have a mask on.”
The vaccines are a critical tool in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives.
More people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine every day. The Food and Drug Administration has authorized several COVID-19 vaccines. Americans as young as 5 years old are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Between December and May, UPMC distributed more than 575,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines throughout our communities. UPMC is partnering with businesses, schools, community organizations, and others to provide vaccine education and distribute doses.
Jade Arnold, who works at the South Side vaccination clinic, says the facility has a positive environment because people are happy to get vaccinated.
“They’re happy to be here,” she says. “I’ve even encountered some people so grateful and happy to be here that they start crying.”
Like Brenda, Darryn Sleeman received her vaccine at the South Side clinic. Darryn, a student at Chatham University and nursing student at UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing, wanted to get the vaccine.
“I think it has more benefits than it does negative effects,” Darryn says. “It makes me feel like I would be doing my part and stopping the spread.”
Pat McCall of Bethel Park, a student at Penn State University, says some of his friends are hesitant about the vaccine. Although he understands the uncertainty, he trusts the science behind the vaccines. Pat got his first and second doses of the vaccine after he became eligible this spring.
“I know that years and years of research has been applied to this vaccine, which is why it came out so quickly,” Pat says. “And it makes sense why people are afraid. But if they look into it more and more, they’ll understand that it’s a lot safer than they tend to think.”
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective against the virus. They are especially effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
Getting the vaccine also can help protect people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 complications and people who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated.
Kylie Barrett of Finleyville lived with her 87-year-old grandmother in the summer of 2020. She believed getting the vaccine when she became eligible would help protect both her and her loved ones.
“I didn’t want her to get sick,” Kylie says. “I just didn’t want anything to happen to her.”
The COVID-19 vaccine also is helping the country return to normalcy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans. Fully vaccinated people can resume many of their pre-pandemic activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.
“I think for me, it gives me a chance to get out more and maybe have a little bit more freedom,” says Marc Cardillo of Baldwin. “You’re not locked in your house all the time. And when businesses start letting people in more that have the vaccine, it gives you more of a chance to do things and just get back into the world again.”
To schedule a vaccine appointment with UPMC, visit Vaccine.UPMC.com. To schedule an appointment for a child between the ages of 12 and 17 years old, call 844-876-2822 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Editor's Note: This video was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
The UPMC Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Center is a joint program between UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. We provide long-term care for adolescents, young adults, maternal patients, and adults with congenital heart disease. Our goal is to provide complete care from your childhood all the way through your life. Our team of experts has a wide knowledge of heart conditions.