COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–The love of family and the burden of a heavy heart outweighs the pressure of working on the front lines for one Ohio State nursing student fighting COVID-19.
Her loss now fuels her commitment to vaccinate as many people as possible.
“I know that everybody’s going through it, but it’s really hard to see that in your own family,” said Laura Ashley Prifogle.
As a nursing student at Ohio State, Prifogle has witnessed the heart-breaking effects COVID-19 has had on families over the past year.
“When you go to put somebody on a BiPAP, or a CPAP, or a ventilator, you’re essentially, you don’t know if they’re ever coming off. So, it’s almost like saying goodbye to those people,” said Prifogle.
She never expected to say goodbye to a loved one of her own. Prifogle’s aunt died from COVID-19 in March.
“She was an amazing soul, and an amazing person to lose,” Prifogle said. “I 1,000 percent believe that if she would have gotten the vaccine, she would be here.”
That belief is why Prifogle is committed to preventing COVID-19 from taking more lives.
“If you get the vaccine, you might get a few side effects. If you get COVID, you might die,” she said as a warning.
The Schottenstein Center on Ohio State’s campus has been operating a vaccination clinic for months.
A\ lot of help to operate the clinic, with organizers saying at one point, they were vaccinating close to 4,000 people daily.
“We wouldn’t be at 180,000 shots in arms at this point without people like her coming in here and dedicating her time to this effort,” said Ryan Haley with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Many students like Prifogle have volunteered their time to obtain clinical hours towards graduation.
Prifogle, who graduates in a matter of weeks, has already fulfilled her requirements. While many of her fellow students stopped volunteering as vaccine demand plateaued and hesitancy rose, Prifogle remained committed.
“She was scared to get the vaccine, and she saw some things on Facebook and social media,” she said of her aunt.
Prifogle’s mission now is to reduce the same vaccine hesitancy her aunt felt.
“I think that’s really the goal of everyone in the medical profession — keep putting the word out to get your vaccine scheduled,” Haley adds of her efforts.
Vaccine hesitancy is something Prifogle has battled within her family. She recently had a second, unvaccinated Aunt get seriously sick from COVID-19. Her mother left a vaccination appointment before getting her shot after having second thoughts.
Sprifogle said she will keep volunteering and keep vaccinating with her aunt’s memory in mind.
“That’s why I wanted to do this. People are still dying, and I know that firsthand,” she said.
Prifogle explained, by being part of the first eligible group, she had some hesitation about getting the vaccine.
She encourages anyone with reservations about getting the vaccine to call a trusted medical professional and ask questions versus believing everything they read online or see on social media.