Advice from a trusted source nudges away vaccine concerns

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Lavon Amos, left, with nurse Angelica Zachara, receives his COVID-19 vaccine.
Pictured: Lavon Amos, left, with nurse Angelica Zachara, decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine after talking with his doctors at Roswell Park.
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Lavon Amos is no stranger to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. He’s been treated twice for cancer here, first for prostate cancer in 1999 and later for multiple myeloma, and has been cancer-free since 2015.

But when notified that he was eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, he hesitated.

“I thought, you know what, I’m going to wait and see,” he says. “I was going to wait six months to a year. I was just really not sure I should get it.”

After his wife, a nurse, got her first dose of the vaccine, Lavon began thinking.

“If this pandemic is going to be around, harming people and causing so many deaths, I started to rethink what is the best thing for me to do. I thought maybe I should follow the recommendations the same as when my doctor tells me I need to get the flu shot every year,” he says. “I didn’t start getting flu shots ever until after my second bout with cancer.”

Lavon also spoke with his healthcare team, including Ian Lund, PA, his multiple myeloma care provider in the Department of Medicine. “He said because my immune system is compromised, it would be beneficial for me to get it.”

Still, there were questions and concerns about whether a two-time cancer patient should get the vaccine. He remembers seeing Philip McCarthy, MD, also a two-time cancer patient, receive the vaccine, along with Lavon’s friend, Roswell Park phlebotomist Dwayne Smith.

Lund told Lavon about the clinical trials conducted to verify the vaccines’ safety and took the time to answer his questions, reassuring him it was safe to get.

“It was talking to the doctors at Roswell that changed my mind,” he continues. “After he talked to me, and the way he put it when he said they are doing the research to make sure that people with underlying immune problems are safe, he couldn’t make it any clearer. I can honestly say I trust and respect him very much. He always seems to provide the information I need to make good choices for my health. That’s something you need in someone who is caring for your health.”

When given the opportunity, Lavon wanted to get the vaccine at Roswell Park.

“When I have a question about my health, I always feel comfortable directing that question to Roswell Park,” he says. “The way I look at it, and it may sound a little corny, but Roswell’s got my back! First and foremost, they want to continue seeing me and see me live a long life.”

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