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Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out to a wider segment of society, worries over rumored side effects are spreading instead, but those with experience say they’re nothing to worry about.
Posts on Facebook by county residents have detailed aches, fatigue and sore arms lasting sometimes more than a day, but those are usually followed up either by the assurance that it was worth it, or that they’re eventually feeling fine.
At Heartland Villa, the long-term care home that lost 10 residents to COVID-19, the vaccine was a welcome sight last month when more than 75 percent of residents and staff got their first and second shots using the Pfizer vaccine.
After the second dose there were no side effects, according to the home’s director Dana Gammon-Ahmed, but the first shot was a different story.
“The first dose, people who had COVID had reported that they had the next day after receiving the first shot they were having overall general malaise, weakness, there was a couple that thought oh my gosh, I’ve got COVID again,” she said.
Only residents that had previously had COVID-19 reported side effects, but of the 24 who’d tested positive, Gammon-Ahmed said only three or four of those had any side effects from the shot.
“Myself, I haven’t had it and after my first injection my arm hurt really bad for a day and a half and other than that I was fine,” she said. “My second injection I’ve had no issues whatsoever.”
Down the road at The Oaks Personal Care Home, no residents there had previously had COVID-19, but they too have gotten both of their shots with no real problems.
“We didn’t have any major side effects here at all,” said Bobbi Clark, head medtech at the home.
“I think some of them had some achiness, some diarrhea, really sore in the arm that first day,” she said. “That was the second shot.” She estimated that around 95 percent of the residents and staff were vaccinated, but only three or four had any side effects from the shots.
Staff of the Hancock County School District were offered the vaccine too, and 159 of the approximately 250 total employees, which includes part-time, coaches, and others, got their first shot on either January 22 or January 25.
Carrie Kimbrell, the district’s health coordinator, said the first shot, this one by Moderna, went smoothly with few complaints of side effects. “We didn’t have any issues really at all,” she said. “Sore arms and those types of things, but for the most part it was really smooth…”
They got their shots through the Green River District Health Department at the location in Hawesville, and she said Hancock County got theirs earlier than other school systems.
“The larger districts around us still haven’t received their vaccine,” she said. “So I was very thankful for that process and that we were kind of put as a priority.”
Although students haven’t returned to full-time in-person learning, Kimbrell hopes that the vaccine will help them get back to the classroom.
“It’s one step closer to returning to whatever normal will look like,” she said.
Gammon-Ahmed said her residents are hoping that they can begin to see their families soon, many of them for the first time since March.
“Hopefully we are past this,” she said. “We will definitely be celebrating once the weather warms up with a huge welcome back party.”
By Dave Taylor