Getting vaccinated to get outdoors

Retired state trooper, conservationist and Northern Michigan outdoorsman discusses the importance of vaccines in staying healthy to enjoy the outdoors.

Jim Maturen being interviewed by MSU Extension at a cabin in Northern Michigan.

Jim Maturen has been an outdoorsman his entire life, fishing and hunting small game, waterfowl and deer. In 1957, he entered the Michigan State Police where he worked for 32 years, first as a trooper and eventually retiring as a sergeant. Throughout his life, he dedicated his free time to conservation efforts, passing legislation through the Michigan state government, founding the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association and winning awards such as Conservationist of the Year, but when the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic began, Maturen found himself living a very new life, one not spent among the trees but inside a hospital fighting for his life.

Recently featured in MSU Extension’s Michigan Vaccine Project My Vaccine Story video series, Jim recalls, “I laid on the couch to watch TV and somehow, I ended up on the floor. I remember the ambulance driver looking at me, and he thought that maybe I was having a stroke, but they tested me and found out I had COVID.” Maturen said his symptoms got progressively worse while in the hospital, to the point where he needed life support." I remember the doctor whispering in my ear and saying ‘Jim, we’re going to put a tube down your throat. It’s rather invasive.’ I don’t remember the tube going down my throat, but I do remember one thing. I knew I was going on a ventilator, and people don’t come off the ventilator. So, in my mind, I knew I was not going home.” Maturen did make a recovery, however, and after time in the ICU, he came off the ventilator and was eventually discharged to a rehabilitation center. As he was wheeled out of the ICU, Maturen said that, “the staff all clapped for me because I was the first person to come off of the ventilator alive” at that hospital.

When the COVID-19 vaccine became available, Jim didn’t hesitate to get it. He says, “with the experiences I’ve had, how could I not trust the doctors and nurses? My theory is if the vaccine is there and available, anybody that doesn’t take advantage of it, your playing roulette with your health and that of your family. How can you not in good conscience protect your family by getting vaccinated?”

Since getting vaccinated, Jim has returned to the outdoors, going hunting and fishing with his son and sharing his story when able. He continues to work on clean water initiatives and conservation efforts and has continued to live a life he enjoys thanks, in-part, to the COVID-19 vaccine.  

Help finding a doctor:

If you need help finding a doctor, try searching for primary care physicians or gynecologists in your area that are highly recommended, search your insurance provider’s website for doctors in your network, or ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors. There are also search engines that can help you narrow your search based on region and specialty needed.

Where can you find vaccines?

To find a vaccine, check with your primary care physician, local health departments, pharmacies, and clinics. You can also visit to locate a vaccine clinic near you.

If you would like to learn more about vaccines, check out Michigan State University Extension’s partnership with the Michigan Vaccine Project to find links to event schedules, podcasts, publications, webinars, and videos relating to vaccine education.

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