“I get 50 injections a day and every time I feel like I’m hugging my grandmother”

“After the initial moment of loss, the pandemic allowed me to immediately make myself available to patients”. Domenico Pascucci, thirty years old, specializing in hygiene and preventive medicine at the Catholic University of Rome, he is one of the doctors of the vaccination center covid 19 Columbus Polyclinic Gemelli. Since December, he has administered the anticovid drug to about 4,000 people. Mostly elderly. “They make me so tender – he says – in the sense that I can’t hug my grandmother, but seeing them is as if I were seeing her”.

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How do you live this delicate situation?
“The fear has been there and always is. But there is also a lot of hope due to the fact that we strongly believe in the efficacy and safety that the vaccination campaign will be able to give to the entire global population. Also because we know that there is no cure for covid, so the vaccine is the only weapon we have to get out of this pandemic. I live it as a mission, for the sake of public health, even if there are moments of tiredness, or some situation that is a bit difficult to manage. But I don’t find it a heavy and burdensome effort, on the contrary I do it with great pleasure because I am also supported by people who know how to play an excellent team game. We have established a wonderful relationship that goes beyond the professional one ».

He has met many people to be vaccinated.
“I started work on December 28th. We vaccinated health workers first, then from February 8 the over 80s and then gradually the over 70s were added. From March we inject the vaccine to fragile patients who are followed in our polyclinic, they are extremely vulnerable , oncohematological, with important disabilities. In total, we have carried out more than 30 thousand administrations in our polyclinic. Personally, about 4 thousand, let’s say an average of 50 per day ».

Does anyone who comes to vaccinate have any hesitation?
«The elderly are not afraid of anything. There are people who may have already experienced the horrors of war and when they come here for the vaccine they express deep gratitude for our work. They are always very hopeful. They can’t wait to get out of this tunnel to start a new phase. Most of the time, before leaving, the sentence that everyone confides in us is always the same: finally I will be able to hug my grandchildren again. I see them almost in the trenches like us, in the sense that they fight almost alongside us. They are so happy and proud to have been vaccinated that they often ask us for the pin with the inscription I am vaccinated. They tell us that they want to show, perhaps to a relative or friend, that they have had the vaccine. They are truly an example of hope for everyone ».

Do you need some extra precautions with frail patients?
“They are people who are extremely convinced of both the safety and the efficacy of the vaccine. Their concern is linked, if anything, to the possible interaction with a possible drug they are already taking. But they rely completely on us, they seek reassurance. However, we are always ready to listen, understand and involve patients in the decision-making process ».

You talk about all the patients vaccinated so far as if you know them one by one
“It is true, in that moment we establish a particular relationship. After months of isolation, they need to talk and feel welcomed. And then the elderly patients make me an infinite tenderness. I come from a small town in the province of Avellino and I have not returned home since September 2020. Since I cannot hug my grandmother, who has remained with me, seeing them is as if I were seeing her. And then, when I look at them I also see the beginning of this phase of hope towards a new normality ».

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