Our Community's Vaccine Stories

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Published August 10, 2021


The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us. However, the vaccine has offered a path to health and safety. We recently asked members of the Buffalo community to share some details about their experiences with the vaccine and how it has impacted their lives.

Stephanie Wong-You.

Stephanie Wong-You – CoNECT & Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo

Wong-You’s family was touched by the pandemic, and this influenced her decision to receive the vaccine. “I experienced a lot of people around me die or become ill from COVID-19. I also experienced many family members who are healthcare providers receive the vaccine a month or so before me, and I saw they didn't experience any serious side effects.” In addition, Wong-You says reading about the long vaccine development process helped her feel comfortable.

As for her vaccine experience, she says it was “delivered on time, with adequate explanation, by very patient healthcare providers. I waited the 15 minutes with no ill effects, and had someone pick me up after the second dose just in case.” Since then, Wong-You says she “has been limiting overall public interactions with crowds, but I have enjoyed more outdoor dining and music.”

Wong-You calls the vaccine “a privilege to receive. I say this as a second-generation person whose family members abroad have not had the access.” Still, she understands vaccine hesitancy, especially in historically underserved communities.” At the same time, Wong-You adds, “with the overall distribution, access, and information, for me, the vaccine means I have more protection from COVID-19 and its variants.”

Tashi Sherpa.

Tashi Sherpa – Best Connections Program, BestSelf Behavioral Health

Sherpa explains that her motivation to receive the vaccine was to “have more protection and reassurance that I would not unknowingly spread anything. I wanted to be able to spend time with family and friends with less anxiety about accidentally giving anyone COVID. I never had COVID, but I was still scared about the possibility of being asymptomatic and spreading it to someone more vulnerable. My choice to get vaccinated was more about communal wellbeing rather than a personal choice”

Her vaccine experience “was easy and quick. I had some itching after my second dose but it went away after about a week and was not that bad.” Once fully vaccinated, she looked forward to “spending time with older family members and feeling less anxious about COVID.”

Connor Lane.

Connor Lane – UB Undergraduate, Environmental Design major

Lane says his motivation to get vaccinated stemmed from living with six roommates at his current address, and with his mother and grandmother at his permanent address. “It was more for their safety than my own.”

He describes his vaccine experience as “smooth! I was someone who quarantined and social distanced, so I never contracted the virus. After my second dose, there wasn't any fatigue, sickness, or ailment that I experienced.”

The first thing Lane looked forward to once being fully vaccinated was traveling. “I specifically wanted to go out of the country for my birthday, so I was going to do whatever it took. I still wear my mask indoors and I socially distance when I can.”

Nicole Nnawuike.

Nicole Nnawuike – Community Member and Buffalo native

Nnawuike says her brother-in-law’s experience with COVID-19 was the main motivator for her to get the vaccine. Like some vaccine recipients, she had a few side effects — some soreness in her arm and a light headache for one day after her first and second shots. “After the second, I was a bit fatigued for about three days, so I took a few days off of work.”

However, Nnawuike considers these effects a small price to pay. “I could not wait to go to a restaurant with friends again. For me, the vaccine means I can help fight against the disease, and if I do get it, I have a much better chance to live another day.”

Interested in sharing your story with us? Write to Buffalo Research News at EngageUB@buffalo.edu.