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

A message from Dr. Zoe Vazquez, Southcoast Physicians Group Pulmonary Medicine, Fall River, on how to arm yourself against COVID-19:

In March of 2020, I had the worst experience of my career: watching my patient die alone while his family called in on an iPad because they weren’t allowed in the hospital because of protections to limit the spread of COVID-19. Sadly, since then, that tragic situation has happened too many times that I’m almost used to it.

In the beginning, the pandemic was heartbreaking because so many people were dying of a disease that had no treatment. Now, the pandemic is tragic because so many people are dying from a preventable disease. It is very painful to bear witness to recent deaths and severe illness when the vaccines are powerful in preventing against this.

I’d like everyone to remember that COVID-19 does not discriminate. The virus does not care how old you are, where you live or about your personal beliefs. Even if you are young and healthy, becoming severely sick with COVID-19 may change your quality of life afterward. There is no way to tell how this disease will affect you.

It is now more important than ever to get vaccinated as the Delta Variant circulating is more contagious and often causes more severe disease than the prior strain of COVID-19. I have a 27-year-old patient who suffered from severe COVID-19 symptoms and was discharged from the hospital on oxygen. Now, they stay at home all day tethered to their oxygen tank, and is so weak that they can only take a shower on the days that their visiting nurse comes to help them. This patient never thought they could get severely sick from COVID-19, and they regret their decision not to get vaccinated.

When you get the vaccine, you may experience mild side effects from the vaccine, including fever, body aches, and a sore arm. These side effects are your immune system responding as it should to the vaccine and producing immunity.

Overall, you are far more likely to have complications from COVID-19 than from the vaccine. The risk of severe or life-threatening side effects from the vaccine is about 1 in 100,000, but if you contract COVID-19, the risk of severe disease or death is closer to 1 in 10.

The vaccine is safe and effective, proven by scientific research data. Not only did I get vaccinated as soon as I could, but I also made sure that my loved ones got vaccinated, as you should too. Please remember that the faster we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can live normal lives again.

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