By REBECCA HAZEN
The COVID-19 vaccine can be expected soon in Dade County. Some healthcare workers already have received it, and some can expect to receive their first dose within a week.
Amanda L. Smith, from Wildwood, works as a cardiovascular specialist at the Erlanger Cardiac Cath Lab. Smith has received her first dose.
According to Smith, Erlanger had been communicating with the staff for several weeks that as soon as a vaccine was available they would be in the first group to receive it.
They were told, that due to the vaccine’s shipment and storage requirements, their notice of the vaccination schedule would be short; more than likely just within a day or two of it beginning.
“Erlanger provided information for our own research and encouraged staff to receive the vaccine. However, they did not make it mandatory,” Smith said.
Smith received the vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18. She noted that the process took approximately 45 minutes, including waiting in line and being in observation for a short period of time after receiving the vaccine.
“Unlike most of my coworkers, I did not have a sore arm after my vaccine but I did have a slight headache that afternoon and the next day, along with a moderate bit of nausea,” Smith said. “I considered these post-vaccine symptoms to be a small inconvenience compared to the array of symptoms with varying levels of severity that a COVID infection could bring.”
Smith was given a card with her vaccine information on it, and she also registered for a program called V-Safe After Vaccination Health Checker, which is through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
V-Safe helps keep track of daily symptoms and will also remind you when your next vaccine dose is due.
“Every day that healthcare workers come to the hospital they are at a high risk of being exposed, more and more with the recent surge of COVID infections. It is important to make sure those taking care of the sick day in and day out stay healthy, safe and able to do their job,” Smith said, regarding the importance of her taking the vaccine.
Smith continued, “I would encourage everyone to take the time to research the vaccine and strongly consider receiving it when it is available to them. The more people who get the vaccine, the more likely it will be for us to see a positive change in the upward shift of the COVID surge.”
Smith encourages everyone to continue wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing, even after being vaccinated.
“Yes, it can be seen as an inconvenience to wear a mask in public and is most certainly disheartening to miss out on social gatherings with family and friends; however, those sacrifices, if everyone does their part, will be worth it in the end. Entirely too many people have lost their lives to this horrible virus,” Smith said.
Abby Bradford, from Trenton, is a respiratory therapist at the Erlanger Baroness Hospital. She plans to receive the vaccine in the next available round.
According to Bradford, the next shipment will most likely be at Erlanger by Dec. 30 or early January.
Bradford was at first hesitant about the vaccine, but she has since changed her mind.
“At first when we were told that the vaccine was coming I felt like there was not enough information to know if it was safe. We only knew that the vaccine didn’t have a short–term effect but have no clue what the long term effect is. Honestly that’s what really scares me,” Bradford said.
Bradford said that she talked with one of her coworkers who had done a lot of research on the vaccine.
“The biggest thing he said that got me was that, yes we don’t know what the long term effects are, but we do know that chicken pox virus can turn into shingles, HIV can turn into AIDS, human papillomavirus can turn into cervical cancer, etc. We don’t know what COVID-19 can cause later in life,” Bradford said.
Bradford continued, “Also the hope for the future that I might not have to wear an N95 mask every day I work or a surgical mask to go shopping. And the hope of getting together with family for holidays.”
Bradford says it is important for healthcare workers to receive the first doses because they are considered the frontline workers.
“Since March I have been working with patients that are positive with the virus. We can’t afford to get sick. There is a shortage across the U.S. of healthcare workers. We need every healthcare worker well. We still have all the other sick patients coming to hospitals that we have to take care of and hope to not spread the disease any further,” Bradford said.
The CDC has recommended that healthcare workers and those in long-term care facilities should be the first to get the vaccines.
To track the vaccine’s progress, Johns Hopkins University has an online vaccine tracker, which can be found at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/vaccines. There is a map where states can be clicked on to find out the number of doses administered.