I have not hugged my mom since last March. I have not hugged my dad. Last year, in April my grandma passed away. I was not able to be with my family and be there for my dad. I never thought that I would not be able to spend time with my dad and comfort him – just be there for him. Last year, my parents were living in a condo on the tenth floor so I would go and stand outside to see him from below. It was the only thing that I could do that’s not behind a computer screen. It was a very difficult time.                                                                  

My father-in-law also had a major cardiovascular surgery last summer and was in and out of the hospital few times. We were not able to visit him and it was not easy getting updates on his health – such a stressful time.

Every vaccine, every medication has its possible side effects – we always have to weigh the benefits against the risks. The risk of getting the virus and its complications is far more than the potential risk from side effects of the vaccine. I had a local pain on the arm when I got my first dose – a little bit of soreness the same day. The next morning when I woke up it was completely gone.

I felt that I should get the vaccine to protect myself, my family, my colleagues and my patients – especially being a health-care worker in a hospital. Getting the vaccine is actually a selfless act because we’re not only protecting ourselves, we’re also protecting all the people around us.

I always say – if you don’t believe in science, how about history? History has shown us how vaccines have helped eradicate many infectious diseases.

I’m very hopeful. The more of us who get the vaccine the faster things will go back to normal. We will look back and remember the hard times – but they will be in the past.

I would love to go back to having a normal life – just the simple things that we used to do. I want to take my four-year-old daughter to the bookstore again – she loves reading. She’s looking forward to going back to school, to playing on the playground. I want to see family and friends. And I want to hug my parents again.

Sally Yousif is a Pharmacist at Providence Healthcare. She got her COVID-19 vaccine. Get yours.

As told to Robyn Cox. This interview has been edited and condensed.