WILMINGTON/TEWKSBURY — The COVID-19 vaccines are beginning to be administered to health-care workers across the country in the first stages of vaccine implementation. The two types of coronavirus vaccines are developed by Pfizer and Moderna, and both are being administered after being approved by the FDA.
“Sue,” a Massachusetts healthcare worker, recently received the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, and was willing to share her thoughts and her experience regarding her vaccination.
According to Sue, she “qualified for the vaccine as a healthcare worker (Occupational Therapist) working in a long-term care facility with a high risk population.”
As Sue is also a mother, she explained that “COVID-19 has had a big effect on our family's life with reducing the opportunities we have to see our friends and family regularly, as well as reducing the number of activities and sports we can participate in. The kids have had most of their regular sports activities and teams canceled (as well as my own adult sports league I have participated in).
“The children have really missed going to school each day and this has been a challenge as a parent as well to help them participate in online schooling, especially my first grader. They really miss going into school, and the opportunities to be with friends there and school based activities.
“One good thing is that we get to spend more time together as a family at home. During quarantine my family and I have done a lot of outside activities and sports.”
Sue said that she was not forced to receive vaccination by her work, and elaborated on some of the initial thoughts she had considering the vaccine.
“The vaccine was optional for me to get. I did have strong reservations about getting it and was concerned about both short- and long-term side effects. Would I have any negative effects immediately? Would they come in the days following administration? What about any long-term side effects that researchers have not yet had enough time to discover because it has just been newly created and administered?”
Sue also delved deeper into her thought process behind receiving the vaccine.
“The things I thought about to make my decision were whether or not I was willing to risk being one of the first to get the vaccine, and not having a lot of information regarding how others I knew responded to it.
“Did I trust the efficacy and safety of the vaccine? Did I want to put myself at risk for contracting COVID-19 longer by refusing the vaccine when it was first offered? Was I concerned about my risk of side effects and complications with the vaccine or the risk of contracting COVID-19 itself as well as possibly passing it on to my family, friends, patients/staff I work with or even strangers?
“How much better would I feel about ‘waiting’ until ‘later’ to get the vaccine? What did I think might change about the vaccine by getting it now versus waiting a year or more?”
She explains what ultimately led her to receive the vaccine when she explained”
“I finally decided I WOULD get the vaccine, because I felt that I do indeed trust the science, and those charged with development of the vaccine and its safety. The vaccine is a crucial and necessary measure to getting ‘back to normal’ with life as we know it, since without widespread administration of the vaccine, we are continuing to see growing numbers of people contract COVID-19 everyday.
“I also decided that the risk of possible complications of getting the vaccine was less than the risk of possible side effects from contracting COVID-19. I spent time reaching out to other medical professionals I know personally who got the vaccine before me to ask about any reactions they may have had and how they made their decision to get it.
“With little negative side effects noted, and information they acquired from others they spoke to (some who were in vaccine trials), and their enthusiastic backing of the vaccine, I ultimately decided to get it. I also feel that it is beneficial having an opportunity to get the vaccine earlier than most, as I am able to be an example to others who can benefit from my experience, and answer questions about my experience to help them make a more informed decision for themselves.
“It helped me to know and have conversations with others I know personally regarding their experience with the vaccine, so I am hoping to be able to help others who know that my experience has been positive and they may then choose to do it as well. The more of us that are vaccinated, the safer life is for EVERYONE, and the sooner we can go back to life as we knew it prior to COVID-19!”
Sue explained whether or not she received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and why.
“I got the Pfizer vaccine because that was what was offered at my job.”
When asked about her experience with the vaccination procedure, Sue elaborated, “The procedure was scheduled, and done on site at my work. I registered for a time slot, filled out paperwork regarding medical history, such as allergies or previous side effects to other vaccines, then just showed up to my work on the day I had signed up.
“CVS pharmacy employees came to our site to administer the vaccine. I was given an informational packet about the vaccine prior to the procedure. The vaccine procedure was similar to a flu shot, with an injection into my arm. After the injection was completed I was asked to stay in a waiting room for 15 minutes for ‘observation’ for side effects. Anyone who had a history of side effects to other vaccines was asked to stay for 30 minutes for observation.”
In terms of discomfort after receiving the vaccine, Sue experienced the following:
“By bedtime (the night I got the vaccine), my arm was quite sore, making it somewhat difficult to raise it up over my head without pain. By the next morning the pain was less and continued to subside throughout the day. By the third day it felt slightly sore to touch and then was pain free by day four. Day two and three after I was slightly more tired and a little achy but that was it. I have experienced no others issues/pain/discomfort since.”
Sue is also “scheduled for a second dose 21 days from administration of the first, per Pfizer vaccine administration guidelines.”
Finally, Sue has this advice to anyone who is still hesitant to get the vaccine.
“I would tell anyone who is debating on whether or not to get the vaccine that I, too, was very skeptical, and had first decided that I did not want to get it until ‘more time had passed.’ But ultimately, through doing my own research and talking with others, I decided that it is safe now, and its benefits outweigh the possible negatives with side effects.
“Also, I don't expect any changes with the vaccine to occur over time by waiting, but I do expect we won't be able to move forward with our lives that we miss until more people are vaccinated so we can protect one another. I would like that to be sooner rather than later! Now that I am, I am so happy I did, and feel fortunate that I got to do so. I feel like I have protected not only myself, but those around me as well!”
We thank Sue for her hard work as a healthcare professional and her decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. One can only hope that, as time passes, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations will become more readily available to all citizens, and that it will help slow the spread of COVID-19, and allow us to shift back into a more (pre-COVID) normal, and ensure health and safety for all.