ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — A UnityPoint Health Trinity employee is urging everyone to get vaccinated, because she believes being vaccinated is what kept her out of the hospital when she tested positive for COVID-19.
Katie Moeller is the Manager of Strategic Projects for UnityPoint. During the pandemic, she picked up some extra shifts to help nurses working in the ICU, which made her eligible for the first round of vaccines in December 2020.
"After just knowing everything that was going on within our hospitals, how busy we were, it was a no brainer for me to go ahead and get vaccinated," Moeller said. "I knew that it's what my provider was recommending, and I trust my provider to take care of every other ailment that I have, so I listened to her."
She said she used to understand both sides of the vaccine argument and that it was a personal choice; for her, the right decision was to get vaccinated. Since testing positive for COVID-19, her thoughts have changed.
"I think that everybody's frustrated that COVID is still around and people are still getting sick, but people are failing to put together the dots," Moeller said. "They need to get their vaccinations in order to stop these variants and in order to combat this virus."
Moeller recently tested positive for COVID-19 after she and seven of her friends, who are all vaccinated, spent a long weekend in Missouri. The following Wednesday she began to fill sick. She was dizzy and had a headache, but didn't think anything of it at first. She said it'd been a busy day at work and she hadn't had time to eat lunch.
"Then I woke up in the middle of the night, and I was feverish and achy, and you know, had all of the COVID symptoms," she said. "Looking back, I had been three days out from being in Missouri where it was a hot spot. And I just knew in my gut that I had it."
Moeller recalled texting her boss at 4 a.m. to tell her she was sick, and then telling her friends and family. Her kids went to stay at their dad's house and she isolated in her room for 10 days.
"It was lonely; it was humbling have to make that phone call to my six girlfriends that had been out of town with me and telling them," she said. "I felt like I had done something wrong. I didn't, but I really felt like I had disappointed them and let them down."
During her quarantine, she was thinking about the stories she's seen over the last year and a half of people in hospitals, and how seriously ill they were. In the first three days before her fever broke, she was terrified.
"I would just think about, you know, what if I wind up in the hospital? I don't want to be another burden to my colleagues," Mueller said.
Especially because she's seen firsthand working at UnityPoint, the toll the pandemic has taken on healthcare workers.
"You hear the desperation in my colleagues' voices, and it's heartbreaking," she said. "I know that if people would just get vaccinated, it would help tremendously with getting this surge under control and helping us all gain some semblance of normalcy again."
Moeller believes being vaccinated kept her out of the hospital and could have saved her life.
"While I was sick for those three days, it was like at the end of that third day, I just turned a corner," Moeller said. "I have not had long term effects. I was able to fairly reasonably jump back into my normal life and my normal activity level. I believe wholeheartedly that the vaccine is what protected me."