Nurse’s Viral TikTok Persuades Individuals to Get Vaccinated
- A nurse’s viral video showed the overwhelming sounds of a crowded intensive care unit.
- Rice was contacted by the California Department of Health to use her video as a nationwide PPE.
- Insider spoke to two people who got vaccinated after watching the viral video.
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A recent viral TikTok begins with a question, “Did you know COVID has a tone?”
Mae Rice, a travel nurse in intensive care, sits for a rare moment during her night shift and stares at the camera before the screen goes black. Then comes the beeping – loud and incessant. These alarms are triggered when a vital sign has reached a critical limit, explains the overlaid text.
They can’t be silenced for more than 10 seconds, and if the Georgia Hospital intensive care unit is at full capacity, they would pound non-stop all night. Most of the 30 patients Rice currently mentored would not survive the next few days, she wrote on the video. All were not vaccinated.
The video, posted under Rice’s Handle, @nurse_sushi, doesn’t seem remarkable in the sea of COVID-19 content on TikTok at first. But days after she posted the video on August 19th, her comments were full of people saying the video motivated them to get vaccinated.
“The vast majority of people have never heard this sound,” Rice told Insider, referring to the beep in her video.
The constant alarms started a few months ago when Delta skyrocketed, and Rice thought they were going to scare people. “It was just holding your head in your hands and you were just like, ‘Why doesn’t it stop? It has to stop. Let the noise stop, ‘”she said.
For many, watching Rice’s video conveyed a sensory understanding of the plight of COVID-flooded intensive care units in ways the numbers didn’t.
Some of the TikTok commentators, affected enough by the emotional edge of the video to seek vaccinations, shared their thoughts with Insiders.
The video inspired people to get vaccinated
Sarah Draissi, a 21-year-old hotel worker in Philadelphia, said she put a lot of effort into learning more about COVID-19 online. But in August she was still not vaccinated.
Though she prided herself on her ability to tell misinformation from fact, the sheer amount of misinformation she had seen about the COVID-19 vaccine made her wonder if some of it had to be based on the truth.
“Health workers on TikTok, they are usually in their house and have just had a really long shift and they are really tired,” said Draissi. Seeing her outside the hospital wasn’t enough to convince her, she said.
Draissi was at her family’s home in Florida when she saw Rice’s video. She immediately made an appointment to be vaccinated when she returned to Philadelphia. “I called my phone and made an appointment for the day my flight landed,” she said.
“What I really remember is when she said: ‘We can’t do anything for these people,'” said Draissi. “To be completely honest, I just felt stupid. Because there is something I can do as long as I’m healthy and not in an intensive care bed.”
Shae Garbe, a 23-year-old from Wisconsin, was reluctant to get a vaccine before watching the video in bed one morning. “It’s easy to ignore something when it’s not right in front of your face, but this video was so haunting,” said Garbe.
When she saw that Rice’s patients were all unvaccinated, she froze. “I looked it over a few times and then got my keys. I was vaccinated half an hour later,” said Garbe.
Both Draissi and Garbe have since shared the video with friends and family.
Rice said she was contacted by the California Department of Health about a week after the video was released. She agreed to have her TikTok run as a nationwide public service announcement in October and November.
“I hear it when I get home from work. I hear it while driving. I hear it while showering. I hear it while I lie down to sleep,” said Rice over the telemetry alarm. Last month she changed her coffee machine because she reminded her of the alarm sound.