Averaging well over 200,000 new coronavirus cases per day, the urgency of distributing and administering this nation’s available vaccines increases every day. Through Jan. 12, about 27.7 million doses had been distributed, according to CDC data, but only about onethird had actually been administered.
Most of those were first shots given to health professionals and residents and staff at long-term care facilities. But in the past two weeks, healthcare providers across the nation rolled up their sleeves to receive the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, 21 days after they received the first injection.
Among the first were Rachel K. Ward BSN, RN, of Austin and Kimberly Wainwright-Morrison BSH, RN, CEN, Canadian High School Class of ‘91. Both received their initial vaccinations in mid-December. Both researched existing scientific data from the clinical trials, assessed well-sourced information, and eagerly signed up for the injections. Both experienced quite different side effects with their second jabs.
Rachel scheduled the second injection for Jan. 8, giving herself the two-day weekend to recover from any possible effects before her next shift at Dell Children’s Medical Center.
“My roommate had it pretty rough yesterday [Jan. 7] from her booster, but so far, just body aches and fatigue today for me,” she said the morning after her own shot.
Rachel’s housemate, Kendra Cannon, is also a registered nurse who has been alongside her since Day One of nursing orientation. The two have shared the rigors of nonstop, high-impact pandemic nursing and self-quarantine since April and are looking forward to future travel and adventures. Both also bounced back quickly from the expected side effects.
“Out of the woods today!” Rachel wrote two days later. “Still tired, but I think that lingers for a bit.”
“Honestly, I feel that in all of this uncertainty, we are allowed to have questions,” Rachel said Jan. 11. “We are allowed to feel scared by unknown answers [to those questions.] But this is the step we take to try to get back to our lives and our loved ones.”
“The booster might knock you down for a day (it means your body is responding appropriately), but it’s nothing compared to the long-lasting or fatal effects from the virus,” Rachel said. “Continue to wear your mask even if you get the vaccine, because the vaccine protects you, but you can still transfer the virus to others.”
Kimberly Wainwright-Morrison has been candid on Facebook about her vaccine experience. She suffered fairly severe injection-site pain, 101.5-degree fever, and chills following the injection on Jan. 4.
Twenty-four hours post-second dose, she felt much better after finally breaking down and taking ibuprofen. “My fever has subsided. I have some mild aches,” she wrote on Jan. 5. “I am tired, but that’s probably because I had a long night.”
“Was it a miserable night? Absolutely,” she wrote later that day. “But I will take that over getting COVID or giving COVID to another human any day. ”
“I don’t trust politicians. I don’t trust the media. I trust God. I trust science,” Kim wrote the day she received her second shot. “Vaccines save lives.”
Rachel Ward summed up her experience: “We are all on the same side, and I promise if we work together, then we are going to be OK.”