Arm Yourself: Dr. Barretti’s COVID-19 Story

A message from Dr. Michael Barretti, Southcoast Health Pulmonologist & Medical Director of Critical Care; former Marine Corps battalion surgeon on how to arm yourself against COVID-19.

As someone who has had a moderately severe COVID-19 infection and then later having the vaccine, I can say that the side effects I experienced from the vaccine paled in comparison to what I experienced during my illness with COVID-19.  The symptoms I experienced after my vaccine were limited to only about a day and a half, and felt like a mild flu-like illness.

In stark contrast, the symptoms I had after contracting COVID-19 in May of 2020 lasted weeks, and evolved from an earache and chills to high fevers, nausea, crushing fatigue, and even delirium. I was hospitalized. My wife contracted COVID, too, and we were scared. We were scared for ourselves, and we were scared for our kids. After more than a month, we had recovered, thank God.

The COVID vaccines have had such a profound impact on all facets of my professional and personal life. Personally, I have been able to comfortably reconnect with family and friends whom I have avoided since the start of the pandemic given the high risk of infection inherent in my job. Professionally, I am able to see patients in the office face-to-face again after months of tele-visits.  In the ICU, the vaccines have dramatically decreased the number of COVID patients that we have seen with critical illness.

The COVID vaccines are extremely safe

The COVID vaccines are extremely safe. Just based on the sheer numbers of people who have received these vaccines worldwide, the incidence of severe side effects has been exceedingly rare. Now more than ever, getting the vaccine is so important.  With the emergence of the Delta variant and increasing numbers of cases around the country, the vaccine is the best protection we have to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

The vaccines available today are absolutely effective against the Delta variant. While there have been breakthrough cases in vaccinated patients, these cases are almost universally mild and in general do not result in hospitalizations or fatalities.

It is important for as many people as possible to get the vaccine.  Young and healthy people still serve as a vector to spread the infection to others who may be at higher risk.  We will continue to see the emergence of COVID variants as long as there are vectors transmitting the virus within the community.

It has been a long year and a half since COVID changed our lives. The world is a very different place today than it was in 2019. Our best chance to get back to a normal life is to defeat the virus, and the best way to accomplish that is to take away its ability to mutate and spread. This can only be achieved when the vast majority of people within a population are vaccinated.

Arm Yourself

We are at a crucial moment in human history, and our actions today will help shape the future for so many. Arm yourself with the facts to make an informed decision.

Visit to find upcoming vaccination opportunities at Southcoast Health, and please speak to your medical provider if you have questions or concerns. You can also find other places to get vaccinated at

Read More Stories from Providers and their Experiences with COVID-19.