A joy to jab: Martha Baggetto volunteers to give COVID vaccines


A joy to jab: Martha Baggetto volunteers to give COVID vaccines

In the past few weeks, Lab Nurse Martha Baggetto has met a woman who lived through and lost everything in WWII Germany, a 100-year-old former music teacher in Hyde Park, and a couple who've been married 62 years. She's also had the pleasure of vaccinating two Lab alumni who now work as City of Chicago police and several other Lab grads. Privacy rules mean she can't say who, but she can say it was a delight!

She's been volunteering to help people who want COVID vaccines to get them by volunteering with two organizations: the Chicago Medical Reserve Corps, a state program for people who have medical licenses (think nurses and MDs but also pharmacists and even veterinarians); and Health 4 Chicago, where she regularly partners with Jennifer Burns. (Burns is a UChicago Medicine pediatric infectious disease nurse practitioner and also the individual who has helped Lab hold regular influenza vaccine clinics at the school.)

Baggetto's position on the front line has given her a unique understanding of the process and how it has shifted. "I started out at clinics at the City Colleges which were supposed to be serving their communities. At first we had students flying home from college and people coming from the Gold Coast. But over time, we saw neighborhood people start to use those sites more." With the shift to large sites like the United Center, Baggetto has now joined paramedics from the Chicago Fire Department to visit and vaccinate truly homebound people.

In the homes of these strangers, people will say to her, "Thank you and be safe and be well."

"It's kind of like a blessing either during your visit or as you're leaving. It makes me feel like I'm in the right place at the right time."

She thought that maybe she'd get to ride in an ambulance or on a firetruck—but this is better.