Shot in the Dark: Vaccine Recipients Share Stories

As we move from winter into spring, the question that everyone seems to be asking pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic is regarding the safety of current vaccines. After all, scientists and researchers are still learning about the virus and its long-term effects, as well as the vaccine. 

When the vaccines were initially announced, there was understandably some fear from the American people because of possible side effects. There was also the concern that the vaccine was created rather quickly. In an effort to show that the vaccine was safe to take and to ease skepticism, our new president, Joe Biden, and vice-president, Kamala Harris, publicly took the vaccines, with Biden taking the Pfizer/BioNTech and Harris taking the Moderna vaccine.  

Still, television is not real life for most of us. That said, to find out how regular people feel about the vaccine and whether they are confident in their decision to take it, we gathered a few testimonials to learn more about their experiences. 

Haley Coolidge

North Carolina

Haley Coolidge is a General Surgery and Trauma Nurse at Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Due to her hospital being a COVID-19 unit, she is currently considered a COVID-19 nurse. And, with healthcare workers being up close and personal with coronavirus patients every day, Coolidge was relieved to be chosen to take the vaccine.

What were your feelings about taking the vaccine? Did you have any reservations about it?

HC: Before getting the vaccine, I had my reservations on what side effects I would feel and if there would be any long-term effects, since it was rushed to be given to the public. I was also unsure of how long the actual immunity would last, since they are saying six months and [then we’d] have to repeat the process over again. 

The main reason why I decided to receive the vaccine was taking care of COVID patients and seeing healthy people decline within just my shift, as well as the toll it takes on the families who are nervous and curious about how their family members are doing but are unable to visit or see them.

Was the vaccine painful? If not, what level of comfort was it?

HC: I do not mind needles and shots, so it was not painful during the vaccination. About 12 hours later, my arm was very sore whenever I lifted it, for about a day. However, the actual shot itself was easy and painless for me. 

Addy Forrest

Florida 

Addy Forrest works as a youth ministry intern, merchandising assistant and nanny. She was in the Pfizer trial, so there was a possibility she received the placebo instead of the real vaccine, being that she is young and healthy. Despite her possibly receiving a placebo, she still remains confident in the current technologies behind our health care. 

How did you feel when you were chosen to take part in the clinic trial?

AF:Originally, I applied to six different COVID-19 clinical trials across the state of Florida. Unfortunately, I was told a couple weeks after applying that my demographic, based on age, gender and ethnicity, was full. In August, I received a phone call from a local site in Jacksonville saying that someone had dropped out, but the only available appointment was less than an hour from then. I didn’t hesitate and received my first injection less than two hours after that phone call. I felt excited to be a part of something so selfless and to work toward a new normal for all of us. I will admit, I’m a bit afraid of needles, but it was quite quick and only felt like a small pinch. 

What is your advice to those that are afraid to take the vaccine?

AF: Genuinely, if you’re scared of taking the vaccine, I’d first think about why you’re scared. My fleeting fears were simply the echo of the doubt of individuals around me. Once I realized that and began to do research on my own, I realized how safe this vaccine truly is. I’d also invite you to speak with someone who has taken the vaccine or a medical professional whom you know. Lastly, when researching the vaccine, stick to credible sources that end in .edu or .gov so you know the information you’re reading is unbiased and, most importantly, factual. 

Kiono Ingram

Florida 

Kiono Ingram is a telephone operator at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. She felt obligated to take the vaccine because her younger sister died from COVID-19, and her father has had it twice. She did not want anyone else in her family to suffer. 

Describe the process of getting the vaccine. Who is in the room? Did you have any nervousness or worry?

KI: I had to fill out a card with my information and some paperwork. It took about three minutes for that part. Then I sat with the nurses, and they asked if I would be able to sit for 15 minutes after I received the shot. I said yes, and they gave me the shot. I waited for 15 minutes and was instructed to return 28 days later to get the second shot. 

There were volunteer hospital workers and nurses in the room, along with other employees getting the shot. We were spread out for social distancing, and everyone was wearing masks. 

In your opinion, what are the pros of getting the vaccine?

KI: If it is successful you will be protecting yourself, your loved ones, and even the public. 

What are the cons? 

KI: Even with all the trials the creators of this vaccine performed, there is no possible way for them to be able to know who might have an allergic reaction to the vaccine until someone does. It’s not out of negligence — it’s just a matter of everyone being different. The human body is similar and different [to others] at the same time. There is always that one in a million that might have a bad reaction to it. 

For more information on COVID-19 and vaccinations, please visit http://www.cdc.gov.

Written by: Tyrah Walker

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