Health care workers say vaccine symptoms are worth it for protection

As of Monday, 6,647 health care workers have come to IU Health Arnett to get their first COVID-19 vaccine, and 997 have gotten their second dose.

Posted: Jan 12, 2021 9:30 PM
Updated: Jan 13, 2021 1:57 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - As more people continue to get vaccinated for COVID-19, we can begin to learn more about the side effects.

As of Monday, 6,647 health care workers have come to IU Health Arnett from Tippecanoe, Benton, Fountain and Warren counties to get their first COVID-19 vaccine, and 997 have gotten their second dose.

The side effects have ranged between people. The CDC says common side effects of the COVID vaccine include pain and swelling in the arm where the shot was injected. Throughout the body, people may experience fever, chills, tiredness and headaches. However, the health care workers News 18 talked to said it was absolutely worth it.

"It was no question for me," said Mallori Walker, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at IU Health's Greenbush location. "I was like which arm do you want and what time do I need to be there."

She said business is pretty much as usual for her in her office. She still sees most patients in person. Only the sick children get virtual visits. She said most of the questions she gets from parents now are about the vaccine, especially since kids 16 and younger can't get the vaccine.

She got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on December 18th. She said her only symptom was pain in her arm where she got the shot.

"I will say it was like whew, ok, I feel that but that's exactly how I feel when I get my flu shot and every year. It was no worse," she said.

And after she got her second shot on Friday, it was much of the same.

"The degree of the pain was much less this time around and the duration of how long it lasted was less," she said.

Dr. Chris Mansfield was the first person to get the vaccine at IU Health Arnett's vaccine clinic also December 18th. He was not as lucky than Walker.

"Right afterwards, I got a little bit of light headedness, a little bit of dizziness and a slight bad taste in my mouth," he said. "But it was short lived, maybe 15 or 20 minutes."

But after he got his second dose on Friday, he started developing chills that afternoon and into Saturday. He said he is generally someone who feels warm all the time, and doesn't normally get cold.

"I went on a five-mile run on Saturday and then right after dinner, boom I got hit like a ton of bricks," he said. "I had major chills, fatigue, myalgia."

However, he said about 36 hours after he got his vaccine, he felt close to fully recovered. Experiencing those side effects is actually a good thing. 

"Our body is doing exactly what it wants to be doing. It's developing those antibodies," said Walker. "If COVID is introduced into your body, your body is like hey I can put up my dukes because I have protection against this virus."

"Your body is just fighting it off and it's really ramping up that immune system," said Dr. Mansfield. "That is what you feel from having those chills. You are experiencing some of that fight."

The CDC recommends keeping the vaccination site clean and applying a cold washcloth. Taking some pain reliever, drinking plenty of water and getting good sleep can help with the other side effects.

Dr. Mansfield said in the best years of the flu vaccine, that vaccine only has an efficiency rate of about 50%. With both COVID-19 vaccines, you get an efficiency rate of about 95% percent. He said this vaccine went through the same scientific development as any other vaccine, but with 24/7 work and billions of dollars in funding, it was able to be developed much quicker. 

"I would not have gotten it if I didn't trust it," he said.

Walker took time away from pediatrics to work in at IU Health's vaccine clinic giving people their shots. She said it was an emotional experience for her because she finally felt true hope, a true sense of doing something productive to defeat this virus and could see a small light at the end of the tunnel. She said the best part for her was getting to vaccinate her best friends who she works with. She said she has faith in what researchers were able to develop.

"I whole heartedly trust science and the science behind this vaccine," she said. "There is a lot of misinformation out there. I would encourage those who are seeking information to seek it from reliable and reputable sources and not what your friend posted on Facebook. Speak to your doctor, speak to your health care provider to get their guidance."

Both said they would go through the symptoms again if it means protecting themselves and those around them.

"I was so thankful that I had just received the vaccination and not the actual infection. I would do it again in a heartbeat knowing that I'm better protected, the health care world that surrounds me is better protected," said Dr. Mansfield. "I would take some would take some mild to moderate symptoms knowing that they are going to be short lived in the better good of the grand scheme of things."

"It protects my patients, it protects my family, it protects my friends and it protects me," said Walker. "We take an oath to take care of our patients and I take that seriously and my way of upholding that oath is get this vaccine"

ISDH says we are currently in phase 1B of the vaccine roll out plan with the addition of the 80 and older age group. Next will be the 70-year-olds and then the 60-year-olds, but when that next move will be is still unknown.

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Data is updated nightly.

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