Anna Warnes, A.P.R.N.

Nurse Practitioner Anna Warnes talks about the impact of COVID-19 on rural hospitals and how she protects her own family.

Anna Warnes is a family nurse practitioner at Crete Area Medical Center in Crete, Nebraska.

How do you feel COVID-19 has impacted the lives of children?
It’s a major disruption in their normal lives. Two years ago, we didn’t think twice about going to a basketball game or a concert, visiting grandparents, or going to school and feeling safe. Now every little decision is altered by COVID. And children have had to face experiences they might not have, like illness and death of a family member. 

If someone asked you why kids five and older should be vaccinated, what would you say?
COVID-19 is still one of the top 10 reasons why children have died in the last year. It can cause multi-system inflammatory conditions. So, children are not unaffected. In fact, it’s affecting more children now. 

Are there still a lot of misconceptions about children and COVID?
Yes. Just yesterday, I was doing a telephone visit with a mom whose child had a fever and a cough. And when I mentioned COVID testing, her response was, “Oh, I didn’t think kids could get that.” We still need a lot more education. 

How does vaccinating children benefit you personally?
I’m a mother with three children. Two of my children are old enough and were vaccinated as soon as we could get it. Now we’re more comfortable visiting our elderly grandparents. My 11-year-old actually got COVID recently, and his only symptom was a mild scratchy throat. And no one else in our family got COVID. I attribute that to everyone in our household, except my three-year-old, being vaccinated. 

How does vaccinating children benefit you professionally?
It frees up my daily appointments so I can treat people who have illnesses other than COVID-19. And as more people get vaccinated, we’re less likely to spread the virus. That makes hospitals safer for older people or those with other conditions, and it keeps us from filling up to capacity. I’ve had patients on a ventilator who are way outside of our regular 30- or 40-mile radius because we just didn’t have any beds available. 

How does vaccinating our children benefit the community?
It allows our communities to thrive. It enables businesses and churches and schools to stay open. It allows festivals and celebrations and a functioning local economy. Maybe it’s not exactly the way it was before, but at least we’re having all this activity. The vaccine is really a gateway to freedom for our communities and the people who get the vaccine.  

How would you respond if someone asked you, “Why should I get my child vaccinated?
Nothing is more important to me than protecting my children, and that’s what the vaccine does. I’ve seen the benefits. It helps reduce the spread of COVID. It helps children reduce COVID infections in themselves. It helps reduce their risk of severe symptoms. And it’s safe. If I didn’t believe in the vaccine, I wouldn’t have gotten it for my own children.