Tammy Myers was just following her doctors’ advice when she went and got her booster shot against COVID-19 Thursday after work at James Madison University.
“I’ve heard all kinds of rumors, but I gotta trust my instincts and put my faith in my doctors,” she said while still wearing her work uniform.
Myers, 61, of Harrisonburg, suffers from a hereditary heart disease and had two surgeries to get a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted when she was 55.
“I probably would have been on the fence had I not had a heart condition, but all my doctors — the guy that [implanted the pacemaker and defibrillator], the cardiologist and my regular M.D. — all three of them said yes,” she said.
COVID-19 is most dangerous for the elderly and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, anemia, obesity and coronary heart disease, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
Myers has worked a month in a dorm, Paul Jennings Hall, right next to the Convocation Center where she got her booster Thursday afternoon. Typically, Myers works in offices, she said.
Myers is among many who got a booster shot on Thursday at JMU after they became available to all American adults on Nov. 19.
“We prefer to be safe than sorry,” said Debbie McDonald, a retired Elkton woman.
Her husband, Steve, also retired, said he is following expert guidance that boosters will help his body’s ability to fight off COVID-19 even if he ends up catching it.
“It’s [because] they have new variants out,” he said. “So boosters, they’re thinking, [it will help] and I didn’t have any problems with the first two shots, so I went and got the booster.”
Debbie McDonald agreed.
Nearly 300 Harrisonburg and Rockingham County residents have died from COVID-19. The 170th county resident to die from the virus passed on Tuesday, while the 114th city resident to die from the virus did so on Nov. 21, according to VDH data.
Just over 1% of the 5.4 million fully vaccinated Virginians had caught COVID-19 and just over 1 in 10,000 fully vaccinated Virginians have died from the virus as of Nov. 20, according to the most recent data available from the Virginia Department of Health.
The McDonalds got together with their family at Thanksgiving as all of them had been vaccinated and they plan on meeting again for Christmas, they said.
“That’s another reason to get the booster,” Steve McDonald said.
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are available at Harrisonburg and Rockingham pharmacies, through doctors’ offices and at mass vaccination clinics like Thursday’s at JMU, according to VaccineFinder.gov.
JMU student Kennedy Musyoka, from Kenya, said only his mother, a government worker, has been able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 due to a lack of doses in his home country.
“In my country, we don’t have the vaccines,” he said. “It’s my personal decision” to get vaccinated.
Musyoka got his first two doses in April.
“Back home, people are struggling to get vaccines,” he said. “You have no shortage of vaccines and we don’t have enough vaccines in Africa, so I was like ‘Why not get a shot?’”
The longer a virus like COVID-19 finds susceptible hosts, the more time it has to mutate, said Dr. Laura Kornegay, Central Shenandoah Health Department director, in an August interview.
“And those mutations typically follow the survival-of-the-fittest rule that the ones that tend to survive and propagate are faster, stronger and more devastating than the previous versions,” she said.
The Wamplers of Timberville also got their booster shots Thursday in an effort to stay ahead of the curve.
“We thought this will boost that immunity” from the previous vaccine doses, said Carolyn Wampler.
“It’s one of those things, well should I or shouldn’t I. There’s so much stuff out there,” Carolyn’s husband, Ron, said right before Carolyn said, “There’s so much misinformation, but my doctors said yes, so I said yes.”
The Wamplers are “pretty much retired,” Ron Wampler said. They had their family, who were vaccinated, over for Thanksgiving and are planning on getting together again for Christmas, Carolyn Wampler said.
Like the other families, Myers’ family gathered together for Thanksgiving, all vaccinated.
“Last year, we stayed in our corners,” Myers said.
She said she is looking forward to meeting her family again for Christmas, also like the other families.
“Compared to last year, it’s wonderful,” Myers said.