Tuesday, 25 May 2021

I got my first COVID-19 vaccine!

Pet perspectives: Why a canine parvovirus outbreak made me want to get my COVID-19 vaccine

I got my first COVID-19 vaccine!


I’ve been thinking a lot about today. My mind returns to when I worked through a canine parvovirus outbreak. It was the most difficult time of my career. In veterinary medicine, we administer more vaccines than some human general practitioners do in their whole careers. We are educated about vaccines and their value, safety, and efficacy. That being said, I don’t often think “I’m glad I don’t have polio.” This moment in my career made me consciously think “Vaccines are so important to survival.” Most patients who contract parvo are puppies, but we see older patients suffering from this highly contagious infectious disease- that can be vaccinated against. I remember our team desperately trying to save a litter of puppies. One by one they died and one by one we grieved them. We did everything we could, at our clinic’s expense (average cost $1000-$2000 per pup to treat), sometimes on our own time. Because you're in full PPE, we couldn’t hold them against our warm skin. We couldn’t kiss their noses or pet their fur. We gave love through paper and plastic. 


We lost the litter, every single one, and when we felt the life leave their tiny bodies a little bit of our life left ours. “Leave work at work” doesn’t exist in the medical community. Not one of us went home to our family and didn’t think of the puppy we’d lost that day. When asked “How was your day?” we would say things like “fine” or “okay” because no one wants to hear about dead puppies and euthanasia and what it feels like to walk a lifeless body to the crematorium. We’d cry ourselves to sleep, grieving the life of the innocent puppy because they were deserving of our grief. We’d be up all night in fear of tomorrow. Parvo was out there. This was just the beginning.  

Canina parvovirus Covid-19 vaccine Saint Bernese


One week we saw several parvo patients. One six-month-old puppy was suffering and the doctor just told the family the diagnosis. I had to help them apply for financing. They didn’t qualify. They elected for humane euthanasia but didn't want to be present. The doctor and I held this puppy and told him through tears we loved him. We were sorry. That week I was scheduled to work 6 days but ended up working Sunday to help the doctor with a parvo case. After working 7 days of death, I was finally able to lose myself in social media. “Dogs don’t need vaccines,” one holistic dog propaganda website said. “Parvo claims less than (insert unsubstantiated # here) lives a year.” These posts, followed by tons of misinformed and anecdotal comment threads below, made me livid. In a moment of anger, I wished these people had a parvo puppy but lacked the funds or means to treat it. They should be holding the dead puppies, not me. The vet community was overwhelmed, working long days followed by long nights of grief. We weren’t just fighting an outbreak, we were also fighting a community spreading misinformation, leading to more infections- and more dead puppies. Regardless of the mortality rate, we were killing ourselves to save each patient, because every life matters. This is how the medical community feels right now. This is how they feel when they lose a patient to COVID-19. This is how they feel when they read misinformation, fear-mongering language, and propaganda about vaccines and the disease. This is their dead puppy. 


I got vaccinated for me, for you, for my family, for your family, for children, for small business owners, for essential workers, for those with poor and good immune systems, for the strangers I pass on the street, for the community, for the world. For every health care worker who has lost a patient- or a puppy. To learn if the vaccine is right for you, please talk to your doctor who is educated, experienced, and knows how to properly interpret medical studies. Don’t make your decision based on the internet, memes, media, or anecdotal information. Your medical team devotes their lives to keeping strangers alive. They’d grieve you if they lost you. Trust me, I know.  

Canina parvovirus Covid-19 vaccine Saint Bernese


To learn more about canine parvovirus CLICK HERE.



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