Building a healthier tomorrow: Erin Clemens explains why she wanted to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
Erin Clemens, who receives services through Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Pennsylvania, waited the recommended two weeks after receiving the second dose of her COVID-19 vaccine to do something she had not done since the beginning of the pandemic – give her mother, who also was fully vaccinated, a great big hug.
Clemens says she decided to roll up her sleeve and get the vaccine for three reasons:
She describes the moment she hugged her mother as a bit surreal. “It seemed like I shouldn’t be hugging her, but I knew I could,” Clemens said. “Being able to do that gave me hope that maybe we can get through this. We all just need to follow the guidelines – and get vaccinated!”
Adjusting to a new reality
Clemens participates in Devereux Pennsylvania’s Community Adult Autism Partnership Program (CAAPP), which provides individualized and innovative community-based support services for adults with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities.
She admits the past year has been challenging, but with the support of her CAAPP team, she has learned how to cope with the stress of daily life.
“Some tasks, such as using the drive-thru at the bank or making doctors’ appointments, were easy enough that I was able to figure out how to do them on my own, or with virtual support to help me do them on my own,” Clemens explained. “However, other tasks like maintaining my apartment proved to be more difficult without in-person guidance. I decided to take it easy and wait for that support. Also, in the beginning, I really thought I needed to stick to a routine. Then, I finally understood that I needed to create a brand new routine. While I still followed my morning schedule – waking up at the same time every day, taking my medicine, getting dressed and putting on my shoes – I had to find new hobbies like sewing face masks and studying braille to keep myself busy.”
Optimistic about the future
Clemens says she is grateful to all those who have been working on the front lines to combat the pandemic, and now that COVID-19 vaccines are available, she remains hopeful about the future.
“I miss a lot of things,” Clemens shared. “I would love to visit the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia. I want to take a trip to New York City with my friend. I want to see the professors and staff at Delaware County Community College where I graduated just a year before the pandemic began. Most of all, I miss visiting my family, especially my grandma who lives in Kentucky and my niece and nephew in Colorado. I’m hopeful that if enough people continue to follow the guidelines and get vaccinated, I’ll be able to do those things again soon.”
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