- Last week, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
- First-line health care workers were the first in line to receive the vaccine, including three doctors who spoke to Business Insider about what it was like to receive the first dose.
- Dr. Michael Bernstein of Connecticut said he had muscle pain for about 24 hours after the shooting, as did Dr. Katie Passaretti of North Carolina.
- Here is what their experiences were like, as he told the writer Nikhita Mahtani.
- Go to the Business Insider homepage for more stories.
Just days after the Food and Drug Administration removed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, Pfizer began delivering the vaccine to hospitals and health care centers in the United States for distribution to front-line workers.
These three doctors were in the first rounds of vaccinations at their hospitals. This is how they say it is the experience.
Dr. Michael Bernstein, 43, is a doctor of intensive care in Stamford, Connecticut.
I received the Pfizer vaccine on December 16 at my hospital, Stamford Health. I think the management of our hospital first wanted to vaccinate a few key doctors who felt very comfortable – I wanted it personally as soon as possible, because I see patients with COVID-19 every day.
Twelve hours before receiving the vaccine, I conducted an information survey and signed the consent form.
At my appointment, I was asked to confirm that I was feeling well, I was given the injection, and then I waited for about 15 minutes to make sure I had no side effects.
I had a little muscle pain, like a fist in my arm, for about 24 hours.
Aside from a little muscle pain that felt like a fist, I felt perfectly fine. The hospital administrator said they would be in charge of scheduling the second dose, which will be within 96 hours, about three weeks later.
I think the science behind this type of vaccine – the messenger RNA platform – is powerful. Understanding its basic science, I have very little concern about the effectiveness of the vaccine or its long-term complications. As a mechanism, there is no live COVID-19 virus in the vaccine: it only gives you the code for the spike protein, so that the immune system can produce antibodies. For me, it is an even safer platform than many previous types of vaccines.
Many infectious diseases are managed through vaccines.
Infectious diseases that we no longer consider to be a major problem, such as polio, even chickenpox, have been almost wiped out in the United States because of the vaccines most people now receive as babies.
One or two people will not stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, when we receive a good majority of the population fully vaccinated, we will begin to see a major effect.
Until then, I intend to still wear this face mask, to practice social distancing and to respect safety and health precautions.
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Dr. Nick Kessener, 35, is a fourth-year resident of internal medicine and pediatrics in Peoria, Illinois.
I take care of patients with COVID-19 every day, while I work at OSF Medical Group both in the intensive care unit and in the outpatient department (where patients come, but are not required to stay overnight). Being one of the largest hospital systems in central Illinois, we have a significant number of COVID-19s in our area, so many of our health care workers have been scheduled to be vaccinated in the first rounds.
We were informed by the hospital administration at the end of November that we would receive the vaccine deliveries earlier and we practically said to register or withdraw. If you sign up, you can always quit later by saying “Hey, I don’t want to.” It is not necessary, but he was certainly encouraged to be vaccinated.
My hospital gave priority to the order depending on who worked with COVID-19 patients for at least 50% of their patient interaction time. I received it on the morning of December 15, the first day I started the doses.
For me, choosing to be vaccinated is a risk versus benefit decision.
I am at a fairly high risk of contracting the virus because I work around patients with COVID-19. We have seen the effects of this disease, from short-term complications such as respiratory distress to long-term complications such as lung problems with pneumonia and even lung disease. I had a 30-year-old patient who had a stroke due to COVID-19 and it made me realize that this is a scary disease, especially because young and healthy people have significant difficulties very early on.
Before I received the vaccine, I was given a form explaining the potential side effects, how it was urgently approved by the FDA and what it contained, so I had all the information and could quit at any time.
After receiving the blow, I had only a little muscle pain.
Personally, it makes me feel better that I’m more protected, because I felt it wasn’t a matter of getting it, it’s When. It’s kind of a miracle that somehow I haven’t caught him yet, so I’m very calm about that. But at the same time, I could spread it if I’m around someone, because the data isn’t set if it still prevents it from spreading to other people, even if I don’t get the disease.
I still intend to wear, of course, a mask and wash my hands well. I was happy to get it and I am grateful that although it is still very early, it feels like the beginning of the end of the wild era, which is COVID-19.
read more: Pharmacies, doctors’ offices and hospitals are preparing to administer millions of coronavirus vaccines to Americans. Here’s how they prepare and how much they earn along the way.
Dr. Katie Passaretti, 44, is a doctor who assists infectious diseases in Charlotte, North Carolina.
On December 14, I was the first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina, where I work as an infectious disease participating in medicine at Atrium Health. I wear a few hats in my service – I often see and actively treat hospitalized patients with infectious disease problems, so the risk of my virus being quite high.
Do not get into infectious diseases without acknowledging that some infections can be spread from patients to you while trying to cure them, but I feel a responsibility to treat patients with COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases.
This year has been extremely challenging, seeing the large number of people infected with COVID-19 and how the virus has affected patients, families and healthcare workers.
We have seen entire families devastated when COVID-19 spreads at a funeral. We have seen couples who died together and hospitalized health workers after contracting COVID-19 while trying to care for patients. It was exhausting and emotional to say the least. The vaccine for me is a ray of hope at a time when it was clouded by darkness, with growing cases and hospitalizations. It is a beacon of light even when we need it.
For this reason, I did not hesitate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine: I strongly feel that obtaining the vaccine gives us an opportunity to influence the very dangerous trajectory we are on. I have carefully analyzed the data on the Pfizer vaccine and I think it is effective and safe.
For me, the vaccine is much less risky than letting COVID-19 spread uncontrollably.
My side effects were minimal – muscle soreness for 24 hours, that’s about it. I felt absolutely safe, well informed and with good hands for the vaccine. He felt physically very similar to any other vaccine I have received in the past.
But my emotional reaction to receiving the vaccine and, more importantly, to watching the other workers in my health getting vaccinated, was very different and honestly moved me to tears. It seemed to me that I needed to protect my community, set an example for my colleagues, and do my part to protect others in the community and the workplace. I am grateful to the scientific experts who have worked so hard to make this vaccine as fast and safe as they have had, and I look forward to encouraging others to get vaccinated with me.
I certainly feel safer, but I still hide, keep my social distance and stay at home. I believe that vaccination is an important part of protecting those around me, including my patients, but until the pandemic is more controlled, I do not intend to change my behavior.
As a doctor for infectious diseases, I would not recommend anyone to change their behavior, especially before most of the country is vaccinated.