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Covid-19 Vaccine interview with Dr. Emiko Bird-Lake!

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

As the vaccination campaign has successfully started , we still had our last vaccination interview in the pipeline.

And not just with anyone, but with ๐ƒ๐จ๐œ๐ญ๐จ๐ซ ๐„๐ฆ๐ข๐ค๐จ ๐๐ข๐ซ๐-๐‹๐š๐ค๐ž, head of the Cardiology Department at the Sint. Maarten Medical Center!

Read on to find out how she experienced the Covid-19 pandemic as a medical doctor, and her recommendations pertaining to the vaccination.

๐‚๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ญ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐š ๐›๐ข๐ญ ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐Ÿ? Hi, I'm Emiko Bird-Lake, cardiologist here at St. Martin Medical Center, where I've been working here now for four years. I'm born here on St. Maarten, and it has always been my dream to become a medical doctor. Which I have accomplished now, after my studies in the States and the Netherlands.

After gaining some medical experience in the Netherlands I decided to come back home. On the 1st of November 2016, I took over the Cardiology department here at the SMMC. I am the first permanent cardiologist, and also the first local one, which is something that Iโ€™m very proud of.

I'm married. I have one son and three dogs. Even though I don't have much free time, I do like singing, mainly for the church, going to the beach, trying to exercise here and there a little bit. But right now, it's really work, work, work, and work.

๐‡๐จ๐ฐ ๐๐จ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐‚๐Ž๐•๐ˆ๐ƒ ๐ฉ๐š๐ง๐๐ž๐ฆ๐ข๐œ ๐ž๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ž๐œ๐ญ ๐š๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ž๐œ๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐›๐จ๐ญ๐ก ๐ข๐ง ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ซ๐ค ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ข๐ง ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐๐š๐ข๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ฅ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ž? When COVID came, I was immediately aware that my patients are at high risk. But it really hit home when my brother-in-law got COVID and had to be intubated. He lives in the Netherlands and was transported to Germany because they didnโ€™t have hospital beds available. I was his contact person, so I was calling every day to get all the vitals, all the updates and relay that back to my family. That is when it really became serious for me. That care, love, and attention you would want to give to someone who is in a critical state but canโ€™t give at that moment are very difficult to deal with.

So, it affected me quite a bit because I know what COVID can do. Not only through my family, but also the first cases that we had here in the hospital. COVID is something very serious. It influences your wellbeing, your physical state, and even your mental state. It has really surprised the whole world as it spread in such a fast manner. And, we're still looking for the right therapy, which makes this such a difficult problem to deal with. And I'm dealing with a lot of patients who are affected by it too, not only physically, but also socioeconomically as a lot of them lost their jobs and their insurance.

It also affected my practice and the hospital. For a few months, we could not see patients, which also meant that people with regular issues were not treated. Now that has picked up much better, as we're really learning to cope with the situation. Without a mask now, you almost feel naked, ha-ha.

๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ข๐ง ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐จ๐ฉ๐ข๐ง๐ข๐จ๐ง, ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ ๐จ ๐›๐š๐œ๐ค ๐ญ๐จ ๐ง๐จ๐ซ๐ฆ๐š๐ฅ? What is going back to normal, you know? Shake hands. Give a kiss. A hug. I would love to do that. Because I like to shake my patient's hands or give them a hug sometimes. So yes, I would love to go back to that.

How to go back to that is by eradicating, or at least limiting the spread of this COVID-19 virus. Still, I don't think this will be the last pandemic that we're going to experience. So truly going back to pre-COVID times might not even happen. It has, however, taught us to become more cautious about our hygiene, which is something I would like to keep along with all the new ways of effective communication.

One solution is to make sure that we become immune to the COVID virus. Which is of course through vaccination. Itโ€™s important to know that all over the world a lot of money and a lot of time was spent developing this vaccine. There are some companies that used a new mRNA technique, (which turns out to be very effective) and other companies that developed vaccines in the traditional way. But all that has been approved by the EMA are completely safe.

Creating herd immunity is very important. not only for our own health and those of loved ones but also for our economy. Tourists will only return to our island if we stop the spread of this virus. In the meantime, we should still remember to take all measures seriously. Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands.

๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ฌ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ญ๐š๐ค๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฏ๐š๐œ๐œ๐ข๐ง๐ž ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ข๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐š๐ฏ๐š๐ข๐ฅ๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž? My patients as well as my direct social circle, are at risk of cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension, diabetes, obesity, etc. So, I'm taking it, not because I'm afraid of COVID, but because I have a real social responsibility towards my patients and the people around me. ๐‘†๐‘œ, ๐ผ ๐‘Ž๐‘š ๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘“๐‘–๐‘›๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฆ ๐‘”๐‘œ๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘˜๐‘’ ๐‘–๐‘ก.

The whole thing is that we want to make our immune systems strong. To create antibodies against this virus. And we know that for a certain length of time, this vaccine will give you that protection. And in the small case that you do get infected, your symptoms are much less severe. So, there are many reasons for me, but my main goal is because I am a doctor and I have a social and professional responsibility towards my patients.

๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฌ๐š๐ฒ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ฌ๐ž ๐๐จ๐ฎ๐›๐ญ๐Ÿ๐ฎ๐ฅ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐š๐ค๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฏ๐š๐œ๐œ๐ข๐ง๐ž? It's not wrong to be doubtful. It's good to do research and have a conviction before you do anything. But you also have a responsibility as well. Because you may not be very prone to get the Covid disease or be very symptomatic if you get it. But the point is that no matter what age you are if you do get it, you can pass it on to those who have comorbidities and have a higher risk of dying from it. So, you do have a certain kind of responsibility for not only your family members but also the community as well.

Of course, not everything is clear. But the one thing that is clear is that you will build up immunity when you take the vaccine. And if we create that herd immunity, we can, and we will make this go down. So, try your best and, be convinced that we are doing something positive by taking the vaccination.

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