This 100-year-old Profmed member is urging us all to vaccinate

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Mrs Rose Norwich was born on the 2nd of January, 1921 in Johannesburg. Over the past 100 years, she has married, raised four children and watched them raise eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren in turn. She is also one of our original Profmed members, and still a member today.

Earlier this year, Rose contracted Covid-19, but it seems that even a global pandemic can’t keep this sparkling, quick-witted lady down.

We were deeply honoured that Rose wanted to share her story with us and her fellow Profmed members.

Q: When did you join Profmed?

Rose: I have so many memories of my life, growing up in Johannesburg and marrying my husband, but I can’t say that I remember the exact date that we joined Profmed. What I do remember is that my husband, who was a surgeon and taken out of the army in the late 1940s to be put in charge of the Joburg General Hospital, was very involved in growing Profmed in its early years. On a Monday afternoon at 5pm he and his fellow doctors would meet about Profmed. It was a medical scheme for medical professionals and later all professionals and they were passionate about growing it to support the medical aid’s base.

Q: You’re double vaccinated. Why did you choose to have the Covid-19 vaccine?

Rose: I’ve seen far too much to not vaccinate. I was born at a time when vaccines didn’t exist. Children around me contracted polio and those who didn’t have lasting effects were the lucky ones. Polio wastes away the muscles. Even when my children were born there were only a few vaccines available and I made sure they had them all. Thankfully, there were far more vaccines for my grandchildren and their children.

Q: Are you surprised that so many people have been hesitant to take the vaccine?

Rose: Completely. I’ve never seen an outcry around vaccines. I don’t really understand it. We were thankful when vaccines were developed and the terrible childhood illnesses that plagued us were over. I have a distant memory of my family having to isolate in a cabin at Cork Bay one holiday because my brother fell ill with one of those childhood diseases. He thankfully recovered fully, but we could not take any risk that he would spread it because not every child did recover, just as so many people haven’t recovered from Covid. Why our society is choosing not to do everything to protect itself is very strange to me.

Q: You still contracted Covid-19, even though you have been double vaccinated. Does it change the way your feel?

Rose: I’m not sure why I still caught Covid. It was very soon after my second jab and my daughter thinks that I was possibly already infected. I do think I was lucky though. It’s an awful disease and I believe I had some protection from my first jab. The staff at Donald Gordon Hospital and doctor in particular were wonderful to me, but I was glad to return home.

Q: What advice would you share with South Africans who are still hesitant to receive the vaccine?

Rose: Every vaccine is new at some point, and we have only ever been thankful to receive them because the diseases they protect against are awful. I don’t know why Covid is different. The disease is terrible and there is now a vaccine. It should be simple, not only for yourself but for those around you. My memories of these childhood illnesses was that we always had to isolate to protect society. It’s been much harder to do that with this pandemic. The vaccine is the solution and it seems very selfish not to do what we have always done – protect ourselves and each other once a vaccine becomes available.