UofL Health employees say they feel great one week after receiving COVID-19 vaccine

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- One week after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, frontline workers at UofL Health say they've had little to no side effects.

“I feel great," said LaShawn Scott, who works in infection control. She was one of the first five employees at UofL Health to get vaccinated. "The only side effects I had was the next day a little sore arm but that went away very quickly.”

Scott is now administering the vaccine to other employees at UofL Health and said she's excited to be part of that process.

“We’re happy. I think I can speak for everyone that this feels like taking a step forward," said UofL Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Smith, who was first in line for the vaccine last Monday

Smith and Scott were joined by Dr. Mohamed Saad, Dr. Valerie Briones-Pryor, and registered nurse Beth Sum in a virtual meeting Monday to discuss how they're feeling one week after being the first five healthcare workers at UofL Health to receive the vaccine.

"I’m doing fine, as everybody stated, no side effects. I worked the same day that I took the shot and I’ve continued to work since then so no issues there," Saad said.

There is still a booster shot that goes with the vaccine 21 days after the first shot is administered. 

UofL Health said since last week, around 550 employees have been vaccinated and another vaccine shipment is expected Dec. 21. 

"My hope is, and our plan from the beginning, is to have all of our tier one healthcare workers, a little over 7,000 of them, done by the end of January if at all possible," Smith said. 

Smith said after Christmas, he expects UofL Health to have both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“I think my preference is, make sure everyone gets the first one they have available to them," he said. 

While these health care workers say the vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel, they also say the fight isn't over yet and they aren't changing how they care for patients. 

"Just because I’m protected and a lot of my colleagues now are protected because they’ve gotten the vaccine, we still have to do our part, which means wearing PPE when we go see these patients, it still means wearing our mask and socially distancing when we’re out in public because we still have to care for other people," said Briones-Pryor.

Last Monday, Briones-Pryor said she was getting the vaccine in honor of the 27 patients she had lost due to COVID-19. One week later, she said unfortunately that number has grown. 

"I’m up to 28 and I currently have 3 patients who are comfort measures now so that number will still probably go up in the next week," she said. “My hope is my story helps others roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated too.” 

These frontline workers said if someone is concerned about taking the vaccine, they should talk to their doctor. 

Smith said he doesn't have concerns about long-term side effects.

“We haven’t really seen much in the way of long-term side effects from any vaccines since the Polio vaccine in the 40s which was a live virus vaccine and so we don’t do that anymore, and the vaccines we’re currently using should be very safe, very self-limited, and I don’t anticipate seeing a lot in the way of long-term side effects," he said.

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