<< Back

Three Weeks After Losing His Father to COVID, a Psychiatrist Gets a Vaccine

January 11, 2021

By Dr. David Pepper
Behavioral Health Network Psychiatrist
Emergency Department, Hartford Hospital

I received my first COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, Dec. 21. Although the actual shot and my reaction to it was without drama and quite benign, I was struck by the magnitude of the event.

Being protected against an illness that continues to infect thousands of people a day, and has killed hundreds of thousands of people — including my own father — was quite exciting and emotional.

Dr. David Pepper
Dr. David Pepper, right, with his father, Alexander Pepper.

Alexander Pepper, 78, died three weeks to the day before I was vaccinated. COVID robbed me of seeing my father face-to-face and being with him at the end of his life in Leominster, Mass. The vaccine did not come quickly enough to spare him. (Pictured, Alexander Pepper, left, with Dr. David Pepper.)

I sat in the observation room after receiving the vaccine, overcome by emotion. I was mindful of so many things: the loss of my dad, the medical marvel of the vaccine’s development, release and effectiveness and knowing that we are turning a corner in the fight against COVID-19.

I have never felt more confident that we are on the right side of science. This has been a grueling 10 months, fighting a pandemic in the midst of tremendous political and societal upheaval. The science behind the vaccine is impressive on so many levels — not just the short timeframe, and pairing new technology with existing, but also its tremendous safety and efficacy data.

I’m confident our world is a better and safer place because of this vaccine. And I think Dad is proud, knowing that I did my part to be vaccinated and we are one step closer to eradicating COVID.

Dr. David Pepper is a Behavioral Health Network psychiatrist in the Emergency Department of Hartford Hospital.

If you’re 75 or older and wanted to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine, log into your MyChartPlus account and find a Hartford HealthCare vaccine clinic near you. If you don’t have a MyChartPlus account, set one up here.