Vaccination saves lives – Les, 72, sees it first hand

Les has been living with rheumatoid arthritis for the past 25 years. This painful condition, which leads to swelling and stiffness of the joints, makes it impossible for a person to move normally and even drive a car.
“And before the COVID-19 pandemic started, I had a very ‘isolated’ lifestyle. “My feet, fingers, hands, shoulders and knees are affected by arthritis, so it can be very difficult for me to move and at some point I could not take a few steps without feeling excruciating pain,” says Les. . He was prescribed a new drug treatment that helps him control the progression of the disease and partially relieve the pain. However, the presence of an autoimmune disease is fraught with serious consequences in case of infection with infections, especially such as COVID-19.
“When the first pandemic restrictions were introduced in March 2020, my doctor told me to isolate myself – not to leave home and not to communicate with anyone other than my family. At that time I could not even imagine that I would be forced to live in isolation for two years and that all the worries outside the house would fall heavily on my wife’s shoulders.
Indeed, even the long-awaited event – celebrating his seventieth birthday with friends and relatives – had to be postponed twice because of the ongoing pandemic.
“I was relieved when there were vaccines for COVID-19. Not only did they keep me safe from infection, but more importantly, they gave me hope that one day I could come out of isolation. As I have a weakened immune system, I was one of the first to receive the vaccine and, apart from a slight bruise on my shoulder, I had no other side effects.
Now Les is fully vaccinated and can finally get out of his house, but at the same time he knows that while vaccines are the best defense against COVID-19, they do not provide one hundred percent protection, as the man recently discovered from his own experience.
“Most of the time I wear a mask and try to avoid the big crowds, but a few weeks ago I had to attend a friend’s funeral, which was attended by about 50 people. “Most of the people were not wearing masks and it seemed silly to me to stand there with a mask, but now I scold myself for not wearing it,” says Les.
“The next day I had a severe headache, I lost my appetite and could not taste the food. I felt very weak and dizzy. After doing a test, I discovered that I have COVID-19. I felt very bad for two weeks, and in a terrible moment I felt like I was having trouble breathing. “The dizziness continued for another three weeks and only now do I feel more or less normal,” says Les. He is angry with himself for letting his guard down for a while. But at the same time, the man is incredibly grateful for the COVID-19 vaccine, because without it, the effects of the disease could be much worse.
Despite the difficulties Les has endured over the past two years, he is philosophical about the experience: “Frustration over canceled vacations or parties is insignificant compared to the risk of death.” At the same time, Les, in this difficult period of the pandemic, was caring for his elderly mother, who needed daily care for the last year of her life. He managed to protect it from COVID-19. Les’s mother died peacefully at the age of 97.
In the European region, a total of 1.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered, saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Although there are still large numbers of COVID-19 cases currently reported in Europe, the high level of herd immunity, which has been achieved mainly through successful vaccination programs, contributes to a significant reduction in hospitalizations and deaths.
The WHO recalls that it is very important to complete the full course of COVID-19 vaccination and, if necessary, take a booster dose. This primarily affects the elderly and people with concomitant health disorders and a weakened immune system.

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