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Why I changed my mind: One woman’s story on her decision to get the COVID vaccine

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 5:34 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In a time when things can seem so divided, Brittany Hunziker has found a bridge. She has changed her mind on the COVID-19 vaccine and plans to get it as soon as possible.

Here’s her story:

In August, Fairbanks resident and hairstylist Brittany Hunziker got the news nobody wants to hear: You have COVID.

“My dad was the first to get COVID in our family,” Hunziker said. “A few days later, my mom and I tested positive.”

Hunziker’s father was vaccinated, but she and her mother were not.

Hunziker and her father were given the monoclonal antibodies treatment - an infusion of proteins that can help your body fight off COVID-19 and reduce the risk of severe disease and hospitalization. Her mother, who was a-symptomatic at the time, did not receive the antibodies.

“My mom was completely fine for about a week but then took a turn for the worst,” Hunziker said. Her mom spent six days in Fairbanks Memorial Hospital before being released home, not because she was better, but because the hospital was filled with so many more severe cases.

“My mom is on up to 4 liters of oxygen 24 hours a day,” Hunziker wrote in an online post. “She can sit up for short periods of time but lays on her stomach most of the time to keep pressure off her lungs.”

Hunziker and her father both experienced COVID symptoms for about a week. “Being sick was terrible. It took everything out of me. It took everything out of me to convince myself to get up to use the restroom,” Hunziker said. “It took everything inside of me to get up to go get a drink of water.”

Hunziker and her father fully recovered; her mother continues to have some COVID symptoms but is on the mend.

Before she got sick, Hunziker said she had thought about getting the COVID vaccine but decided against it.

“I was pretty neutral, I wasn’t against it, but I wasn’t for it either,” Hunziker said. “I just didn’t take the time to look anything up myself. You hear a lot of things on social media, you read articles and stuff and all of them point this way or the other way, and there is not really anyone that is right in the middle where I was, so I didn’t have anyone to bounce off of.”

Hunziker said her fears about getting the vaccine were, how new the virus was, and how fast the vaccine was pushed out to the public. “I didn’t know what the long-term health effects were if I was to get the vaccine. I didn’t know if I was going to have a reaction to it, nothing like that.” Hunziker added.

Hunziker still thinks vaccines should be a choice but plans to get one as soon as medically possible. She said her experience of getting sick and few good conversations with friends changed her mind.

Hunziker gave some advice about talking to a loved one who isn’t vaccinated: “I would just start having little conversations with people, that’s what really opened up my eyes, besides my experience. You know, people sitting in my (hairdresser) chair and talking to them, and learning things about the virus and the vaccine that I didn’t know, and I didn’t take the time to research myself.”

Hunziker wants to ask the community to be patient and caring towards those who aren’t ready to be vaccinated.

“Not everyone is just, ‘Yeah, I ‘m going to get the vaccine right here today,’ So ask them. Instead of being like: “Why aren’t you getting the vaccine?’ and being super judgy about it,” Hunziker said. “Find out a little more information, so maybe that gives *you* the opportunity for education.”

A reminder that kindness, connection, and communication will get us through this pandemic together.

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