Two weeks after the beginning of symptoms and a week after testing positive for the disease, Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) is beginning to feel on the mend from COVID-19, saying her vaccination likely prevented her from having been hospitalized.
"If I didn't have access to my doctor, I might be dead, because I would have been back out. I would have thought this was the flu," she said.
She initially had a sore throat and fever; after a week of worsening flu-like symptoms, her doctor encouraged her to get a COVID-19 test, which came back positive. Had she not gotten the test, she said she would have forced herself to return to work.
"I was very scared, because I got five kids, (including) a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old who still depend on me," she said. "And the woman who helps take care of them was going to be out. Not only am I an elected official, I still take care of my family."
During her convalescence, Taylor has been able to sequester in her apartment, separated from her children and grandchildren. "It's another reason you get down so long, because you can't contact and be around your loved ones," she said.
As an elected official, Taylor is around people often as part of her job, contacts through which she was likely infected. "I only got the vaccination because whatever I'm out in public doing, I will bring home, and I never wanted to bring this home to my family," Taylor said.
She was initially hesitant to get vaccinated — alderpersons were eligible last winter — citing bad prior experiences with the medical system, concern for constituents who had not yet been offered the chance to get shots and anxiety over the speed with which the vaccines were developed.
A run-in with the coronavirus — her hairdresser got infected — and conversations with Dr. Maya Green of Howard Brown Health convinced her to get the Johnson & Johnson one on March 17. She also wanted to have the peace of mind to go back out into some kind of public life again.
Taylor said she is one of the countless number of people taking vitamin supplements amid the pandemic.
Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, writing for the Harvard Medical School publishing house, notes that Vitamin C is an antioxidant that may promote healthy immune functioning, the element zinc may have antiviral activity and that some evidence suggests combining the two may limit the duration and severity of cold symptoms.
That said, evidence from studies around the use of the supplements in treating COVID-19 is not convincing. But there is science to suggest, he said, that they might be — though he recommended relying on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations rather than unproven treatments.
And, of course, the CDC recommends everyone who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines get them.
Taylor has hosted online vaccine information sessions and ward testing events before. She said she plans to highlight the need to get immunized at her next ward night.
"It was something I had not been pushing, because I feel like it's someone's personal decision, and the government already plays too big a role in what we do in our lives," she said. "But I'm grateful that Dr. Maya Green from Howard Brown talked me into it, and for all the right and wrong reasons.
“And I'm a person who gets the flu shot, so it's not like I don't believe in vaccinations, I just figured they came up with this vaccination too fast. And I just didn't trust, and there's a distrust in our community when it comes to government and what they're pushing but it has saved my life."