Guyanese-born Registered Nurse, Patricia Cummings who has been working at United Medical Center in Washington DC, for 15 years on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, had the opportunity of a lifetime to administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as America looked on.
Born in the mining town of Bartica in the Essequibo region, clinical nurse manager, Cummings, who left Guyana with her parents at age 10, expressed via a zoom interview in Guyana, how grateful and blessed she felt that of all the millions of female nurses in the country, she was chosen.
The front line worker who, before injecting the vaccine told VP Harris, she would have to sanitize, her arm, and asked if that was okay, as heard on a CNN video.
Harris in return said yes, and after being inoculated against coronavirus, giggled, tapped Cummings’ arm, and said “that was easy. Thank you. I barely felt it.”
“I want to encourage everyone to get the vaccine. It is relatively painless. It happens really quickly, and it is safe,” said VP-elect Harris.
“It’s literally about saving lives. I trust the scientists. And it is the scientists who created and approved this vaccine. So I urge everyone, when it is your turn, get vaccinated,” she insisted.
This is a moment, Cummings, who lived six years in St. Lucia with her parents, before migrating to the United States in 2000, will cherish, for the rest of her life.
“I am proud to represent our country, Guyana,” she said during the interview. “I being chosen was especially meaningful to me. I am honored, and I don’t take this for granted. We have the same things in common,” she said of Harris. “We both have immigrant parents, (Harris’ mother is deceased), and she is a powerful black woman. I admire her leadership and qualities.”
“It is amazing. I never thought in a million years I would have had this opportunity, but once I received the call, I jumped on it. I was admittedly nervous, but I never second-guessed it,” she explained.
Cummings’ 15 years as a registered nurse spanned different aspects of nursing and leadership.
“I love what I do and I am honored to have been chosen to administer the vaccine to Madam Vice President (elect) Kamala Harris,” said the medical professional, noting that she needed to do some research, which she did, before taking the Pfizer vaccine herself.
Her research found that both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were effective. Cummings said she will be taking her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in a few weeks.
“Over two million people in American already had the vaccine. I had no side effects from the vaccine. To my fellow Guyanese, educate yourself, do not speak ignorantly, or speak on hearsay. Do not speak on one or two accounts. Do the research,” she insisted.
“I am a living witness to the vaccine,” she said, and shared that she visits her family members in Guyana as much as possible.
“I would love them (her family) to take the vaccine if it is available. I encourage you to do the same,” she told her listening audience.
“The COVID-19 is not going away for a long time. It is in my lifetime, the most traumatic and devastating thing that has happened, and if we have a solution in the form of a vaccine to get closer to stopping it, I recommend that you take part in that,” she said.
“Persons in Guyana, please adhere to the guidelines. Wearing your masks saves lives, socially distancing saves lives, washing and sanitizing hands do work and saves lives,” Cummings insisted.
She assured Guyanese youth that, “the evidence is there, I am a front line worker, nurse manager, but I am still very much involved with direct patient care with my staff, and I have seen the damages, and what non-adherent causes,” reiterating, “adhere to the safety measures.”
“To our young people, we need you, don’t feel as though because you are young and your immune systems are healthy, you are immune to contracting the virus, it is not a joke,” she warned.
“Do as you are instructed. Life is really precious, and we should cherish every moment that we have. We should do everything to the best of our ability to preserve life, not just our own,” she said, insisting that young people are carriers, because they are asymptomatic, meaning, they don’t show any signs, “but because you may live or associate with an elderly person, you could pass it on.”
“I encourage you to take responsibility for your life as well as those who you love,” insisted Cummings, who shared that she grew up in Corriverton, Berbice with her grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousins, whom she visited four years ago.
“When this is all over or less than it is right now. I hope to go and visit Corriverton,” said Nurse Cummings.