Shanda D. Ross, M.S.N., R.N.

Meet the Maximizer

Shanda Ross, MSN, RN, gives a firsthand account of the suffering COVID-19 has caused, and explains the vital role of accurate information in helping parents make good decisions about vaccination.

Shanda Ross is the Director of Engagement, Outreach & Belonging in the Inclusion & Diversity Department at Nebraska Medicine

How do you feel that COVID-19 has affected the lives of children?

COVID-19 has affected kids in a very negative way. You have children with adults in their lives that

have made the decision not to get vaccinated, that are now deceased. You have children who have lost grandparents, teachers, other family members and friends – they have just had a lot of loss and death. I’m very curious to see how they come out of this. I’m hoping stronger, but I don’t feel that this impact has been the most positive for them.

Why do you feel it is important that kids are vaccinated against COVID-19?

They go to school, they’re in a lot of settings that are very busy and full of crowds. And we know that COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease. The way we protect our children is we get them vaccinated, like we have with all the other diseases that we know require vaccination. Without it we put them at risk for becoming long haulers, or for having diseases that may affect their heart. And they have to say, “Yeah, I wanted to be a football player. I wanted to play basketball, run track, but now I can’t because I have this condition that affects my lungs and my heart, and it could have potentially been prevented.”

How does vaccinating kids against COVID-19 benefit you personally?

I have two granddaughters. One is preteen, one is three. She’s not eligible for the vaccine yet, so it’s very important for us to vaccinate ourselves so that we protect her. For my preteen, I want her to be able to enjoy these years and move into teenage life, doing activities with her friends, and not worry about her contracting the virus.

I also work with kids who have lost parents to COVID-19, and it’s very sad and disheartening both personally and professionally. As a nurse, I do what I can to educate my community. As an auntie and a mom, I help my family make an informed decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

How does vaccinating kids for COVID-19 benefit you as a nurse, as someone working in healthcare?

Children getting the COVID-19 vaccine benefits our profession because it helps decrease our hospitalizations. In the beginning, it was said that children were protected. They didn’t get COVID-19. Well, now, we’re finding, because they weren’t part of that first rollout of vaccinations, it does affect them. You see the babies in the hospital and you’re happy when you see them recover and they get to go home, but we don’t like to see them in the hospital.

How does vaccinating kids for COVID-19 benefit the community?

It benefits the community because it helps us create herd immunity. It helps our community to have our children grow up and contribute to society. They can’t do that if they’re not here. They can’t do that if they have effects that have now debilitated them, and they can’t go off to college or they can’t work. Or “Guess what? I’m having a hard time focusing because of COVID brain fog.”

We host Girls Inc. clinics for the community to get the COVID-19 vaccines. And it’s very warming to my heart when I see the kiddos come and they’re ready to roll. Now, not all of them are looking forward to getting a shot, but overall, they wear it as a badge of honor. That’s very heartwarming as well.

What would you say to someone who is on the fence about vaccinating their child for COVID-19?

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is one of our most effective and efficient ways for getting through this pandemic. I also would say, just because you had COVID or your child had COVID, that does not mean their immune system protects them against further harm from the virus. We really need to get children vaccinated, just like the adults, to be sure that we are giving them every layer of protection that we can. I know that there’s still some medical mistrust, but if you look at this vaccine and not the things that have happened in the past, it’s safe, it’s been proven, it’s efficient. Mistrust is only preventing us from getting this layer of protection. And we are responsible in protecting our children.

Is there anything else you would like all parents to know?

Please, please, please talk to the professionals. You can Google anything and something is going to pop up. Talk to someone that you know and can trust. I work with the Mocha Docs, who are about five or six women of color who are physicians. They’re very passionate about being sure that our community can make an informed decision. We’re not trying to twist your arm or trick you with information. We truly want you to have all the correct information so you can make an informed decision to protect your family, your household, and your community.