Now that people are getting vaccinated in Ohio, how does life change — or does it at all? We spoke with five different people in five very different stages of life and career who have now gotten both of their vaccine doses.
DONNA AND DICK BAZNIK — 75 AND 78 YEARS OLD
Donna and Dick Baznik received their first dose in late December, the second one on Jan. 20.
“It’s a relief,” Donna said. “It’s the first step toward getting everybody so we can be together again.”
Dick, 78, and Donna, 75, live at the Kendal retirement community in Oberlin. They haven’t set foot in a grocery store in a year, getting meals and groceries delivered to keep themselves and others safe.
And Donna knows the value of vaccines — she had polio as a child.
“I remember as a kid when I got my second polio vaccine, I remember her crying and being so grateful we were protected,” said their daughter Rebecca School.
But now, fully vaccinated, the Bazniks see that end in sight as they wait patiently for the rest of their family to get their shot at the shot.
“We have our master list for when it’s our whole family again,” Donna said.
And at the very top of that list — hugs.
DR. MARCUS GERMANY — 30 YEARS OLD
“I miss the hugs from mom, and grandma and everyone else,” said Dr. Marcus Germany, a resident physician at MetroHealth Medical Center.
Yep, hugs are what he’s looking forward to most, as well.
“The first one is gonna be really sweet!” he said, laughing.
For 10 months, he’s seen firsthand how much COVID-19 can ravage the body.
He said he’s grateful for the vaccine, but still very careful.
“It’s great, but I still want to take a grain of salt and still be very cautious. “Things can still get bad despite the vaccine. Nothing is 100% effective,” Dr. Germany said.
“It would be irresponsible to do all this work, get the vaccine and then go crazy, just strip everywhere away,” he said.
JENNIFER LOEBICK - 35 YEARS OLD
“The vaccine is 95% effective so there is still that small chance,” said Jennifer Loebick, a registered nurse in the medical ICU at Fairview Hospital Cleveland Clinic.
Coronavirus has consumed her life since March 13, 2020.
“There hasn’t been a day when we haven’t had a covid patient,” she said.
For her, the vaccine gives her a chance to finally see the nephews she hasn’t seen in a year.
“When I talked to my brother on Sunday I cried,” Loebick said. ”Because this vaccine isn’t for me, it’s for other people, it’s for the public, it’s for my family. I’m getting tearful because I just haven’t seen them, I haven’t hugged them.”
DR. KRYSTAL TOMEI — 40 YEARS OLD
“It’s just a relief to know that we have one extra layer of protection,” said Dr. Krystal Tomei. She’s a pediatric neurosurgeon at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s.
Two doses completed, and that’s no small feat for her — fully terrified of needles.
“I am so phobic of needles!” she said, laughing.
Not when they’re pointed away from her, though — she volunteered to give other caregivers their shots during her free time.
For her, she’s been missing travel over the last year.
But even vaccinated, Dr. Tomei said for now, nothing in her life will change.
“I think we’re all hopeful the vaccine will make it less easy for us to transmit COVID if we get it but right now all that we know for certain is that people who are vaccinated don’t get as sick,” she said. “I’m still going to wear my mask, I’m still going to be socially distanced, I’m still gonna make sure I’m washing my hands.”
For all of them — and for so many others — the COVID vaccine has meant hope and excitement for a return to normalcy, but with a heavy dose of caution.
“It’s the beginning of the end,” Loebick said.
“A huge sigh of relief,” Germany added.
And through all of the sickness and the shots, a step toward being together again — safely — because that’s all we really want.