“Chronic Illness, COVID and the Vaccine – Impossible Choices”

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The Story

“Chronic Illness, COVID and the Vaccine – Impossible Choices”
by Anna Marie Zorn
Milwaukee Magazine, February 19, 2021

The Pitch

Staring up from his Milwaukee hospital bed in March, Judge Derek Mosley made a choice. To attempt to fight coronavirus, he chose to go off the immunosuppressant drugs which were keeping his transplanted kidney alive. He gambled with his kidney to save his life, and he won. Now, facing a different choice, he wonders if he’ll get lucky twice. As someone with chronic kidney disease, he’d be at the top of the list for the new vaccine that’s about to roll out. But, as he says, “I won’t be first in line for it.”

I’m proposing a feature story for Milwaukee Magazine that will highlight the struggle people with chronic illness face when determining whether or not to get the new vaccine for coronavirus as told through the stories of two southeastern Wisconsin residents who live with chronic illness. Both have made tough choices over and over throughout this pandemic. Jacque English, of Oconomowoc, went off her medications to control polycystic kidney disease so she could avoid the hospital. She also stopped seeing her father who lives two doors down because she didn’t believe he was making safe decisions. Now, she must decide if the vaccine will be safe for her, as she would likely be at the top of the list to get it. Judge Mosley also has similar worries about side-effects, long-term consequences, and the possibility that two doses of the vaccine might be required to even work. He wonders, too, about the necessity of the vaccine for himself since as the New York Times recently reported, “…there is a ‘massive dynamic range’ in immune response, with a 200-fold difference in antibody levels” among people who have survived coronavirus. In other words, there’s no telling if Judge Mosley has natural immunity still or not. His most recent antibody test came out negative.

I’m a freelance writer in Menomonee Falls, and I taught secondary life sciences for over a decade with my degree in biology. My professional writing experience has been writing long-form copy for health, wellness, and beauty businesses. Currently, I am a science writing student at Johns Hopkins University. I would be happy to send along any writing samples, and I’m happy to answer any questions or follow up by phone.

Thank you for the consideration,

Anna Marie Zorn

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