A slow return to some normalcy

Guest Blog By: Dr. Angela Kloepfer-Shapiro

It has been a difficult year for everyone, as we grapple with balancing physical wellness and the need for emotional connection.

People have listened to the experts and correctly distanced themselves from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While socializing continued at a distance, such as by phone or online, nothing replaces the warmth of physical touch.

COVID-19 has taken a deep toll on seniors. They were among the first to be isolated because of their vulnerability. They were advised not to see their children, grandchildren, and friends in person. We’ve seen many stories of seniors visiting loved ones through glass. Hugs and hand holding were not allowed. Others have been too scared to leave their homes to go to the grocery or drug store. And family celebrations like Mother’s Day, graduations, birthdays, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas disappeared.

But things are slowly beginning to change for the better. With the growing distribution of vaccines, returning to some form of normalcy is more than a distant hope. Studies show these vaccines are safe and effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19. While no vaccine is 100% effective, getting the vaccine significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from the virus. Those who have been vaccinated may be able to do some things they’d lost, such as visiting other vaccinated people inside a home or private setting without a mask, celebrating special occasions or sharing a hug.

I was fortunate to receive a vaccine in December before I moved into my current role as market medical executive for Cigna Medicare. I considered the dose a meaningful holiday present, and after receiving it, I felt great both physically and mentally. I have been able to return to activities, such as swimming in the gym and visiting with family members who have also been vaccinated. We weren’t able to celebrate much in 2020, and seeing family since then has been highly anticipated and deeply meaningful. I have continued to take precautions like mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing.

I know some people are on the fence about getting the vaccine. I certainly respect those feelings. As a doctor, I found the case to take the vaccine very compelling. I urge everyone to do their own research, including talking with their doctor, to ensure they make an informed decision about what is best for them, their family and their community as we strive to get back some of what we have lost.

For more information about COVID-19, the vaccine and how Cigna is helping its customers during these times, visit cigna.com/coronavirus.

Angela Kloepfer-Shapiro, MD, is the Market Medical Executive for Cigna’s Medicare Advantage (MA) plans in Colorado.

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