A-Z

Jessica

Brief Outline:

Ethnicity: White British
Background: Jessica is in her 30s and is White British. She lives with her husband and child, and is a respiratory doctor. Jessica was worried about having the Covid vaccine because of being pregnant. However, being a doctor, she also wanted to be a role model for others and show that the vaccine was safe and worked.

More about me...

Jessica became aware of Covid in December of 2019. She works in a hospital as a respiratory doctor so her team had a lesson and discussion about what happened during previous pandemics (e.g. swine flu pandemic). At the time, Jessica remembers that teaching was very much an overview, rather than in-depth. Shortly after, Jessica went on holiday and when she came back the classes on Covid became much more intense. Her team told her that the unit had to start wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) and take measures to protect the patients.
 
Jessica remembers a specific case on her ward: a patient presented with symptoms of pneumonia. She put the patient in an isolated room and swabbed for turberculosis and Covid, not expecting they would have Covid because it was very early on in the pandemic. However, after a few days the swab came back as Covid positive, and Jessica was told by her colleagues that she would have to isolate. She says that she felt lucky that she felt well and had not been in contact with anyone else before being told she had to isolate.
 
After a few days, Jessica developed a cough so she thought she should do a test to see if she had Covid. This was April 2020 and she could not access a test. Jessica really wanted to know if she had Covid, because if not then she could stop her quarantine and go back to work. Since many of her colleagues were also isolating it had put a strain on the intensive care unit. 
 
When Jessica returned to work she remembers thinking “OK, it’s not terrible.” About eight of her 48 patients had Covid. However, this number increased dramatically. Within two weeks, almost every patient had Covid. Jessica found this exhausting because she had to keep changing her PPE between patients. She also says that PPE made her feel very hot. Another emotion Jessica was experiencing was anxiety, because she was unsure how to best look after the patients. 
 
When the vaccine first came out, Jessica was unsure whether to have  it because she was pregnant. However, she also wanted to show other people that having the vaccine was safe and worked. At the time she remembers thinking “'well, I'll just get my head down. I'll deal with this later.” 
 
Fast forward a few months, Jessica caught Covid again. She says that her son was sad that she had Covid because he could no longer go to school. She found out by taking a lateral flow test at a testing centre. Jessica says it is hard to explain what symptoms were from Covid and what was from her pregnancy.

 

 

Jessica works in a hospital. She saw Covid increase very rapidly until everyone in her unit was a Covid patient.

Jessica works in a hospital. She saw Covid increase very rapidly until everyone in her unit was a Covid patient.

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And when I came in to work, I remember coming back that first day and thinking, 'OK, it's not terrible.' And our ward of about forty eight patients or so, there were maybe eight cases of Covid, but eight cases of a single diagnosis is incredibly... well it doesn't happen; maybe bog standard pneumonia and that's it, but even then in Intensive Care like ours that's very unusual. And over the course of the subsequent weeks... or in subsequent week, that number just increased and increased and increased; within two weeks suddenly everyone's Covid; every patient had coronavirus.

 

Seeing films from Italy on the news made Jessica realise that the pandemic was now just down the road.

Seeing films from Italy on the news made Jessica realise that the pandemic was now just down the road.

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And so, I was... and actually, the BBC News presenter who covers Italy is... was my roommate at university and seeing his interviews with medics and with patients in Italy, you know, and you could tell this was really difficult for him, for the people he was interviewing, you know, they were all in tears. And then they were filming around the intensive care units in Italy and you could see all of the patients and it was definitely geographically close to home compared to Wuhan. You know, this was down the road, this was Europe, this was, you know, something that... and then... and alongside that, we have got a case and said, 'This is what's going to come for us next.' I think that's really what made it... what made it real.

 

Jessica thought it might be better if her husband and son got Covid from her so they could isolate together

Jessica thought it might be better if her husband and son got Covid from her so they could isolate together

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I didn't feel all that concerned if they got it, and in a way, I thought it was better if they did because then they'd be unlikely to get it again at another point. And I thought... sort of thought the sooner the better because if they get symptoms later on in our ten day isolation, they're going to have to isolate for another ten days while I go back to work and desert them; they're going to hate me even more [laughs].

 

When Jessica, a hospital doctor, was interviewed early in 2021 she had already been infected twice.

When Jessica, a hospital doctor, was interviewed early in 2021 she had already been infected twice.

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Even when I got my cough the second time around, I've had a cough loads of times before, and it's a really common thing to have. And so, when I got it the second time around, I was surrounded by Covid patients. I'd been seeing twenty five to fifty different Covid patients per day, looking after people who were having aerosolising procedures, so they were all on CPAP, which is the type of ventilation. And so, I knew my risk was high. I was high risk for getting Covid at that point.

 

A respiratory doctor, Jessica sees the effect of racism on health.

A respiratory doctor, Jessica sees the effect of racism on health.

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And I'm very irritated during, you know, the first wave where people started making inferences about genetic causes, and that was absolutely classic with the medical and scientific community, who have not understood the sociological impact of racism and the impact of racism on health. And how racism manifests not just in the way people access healthcare, or their interactions within healthcare once they get unwell, but the entirety of their lives up until that point. And it's been one of the good things to have come out the pandemic. Look, we are at least seeing people talk about this more, acknowledge it more and finally hope we do something about it.

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