Health care systems in Greenville have received the COVID-19 vaccine and began immunizing health workers on a day some officials have celebrated as a turning point in the monthslong pandemic that continues to ravage the world.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine on Dec. 11.
Prisma Health announced on Tuesday, Dec. 15, that it had received almost 10,000 doses of the vaccine.
A spokesperson from Bon Secours St. Francis confirmed the health system received 1,000 doses of the same vaccine the same week, adding that the health system would be working under a framework that would allow front-line staff first access to the COVID-19 vaccine with other staff who work with COVID-19 patients.
On Monday, Dec. 28 local media reported that the other approved vaccine from the pharmaceutical company Moderna had been given to retirement community members in Greenville.
Dr. Dawn Zellner of Bon Secours’ emergency department received her Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 16. She said taking it was just like getting a regular flu shot. Zellner said she hadn’t felt any side effects on the day she took the shot. Most side effects, she noted, could potentially come after the second dose that is needed three weeks after the first.
Zellner isn’t concerned about the side effects, though. “They are what your immune system is supposed to do,” she said. “It’s telling you that it’s identifying something foreign and building antibodies to it, and that’s what I want to happen.”
Zellner says it’s valid that some people are skeptical about the vaccine, but they need to address that by seeking answers from credible sources. She read the entire FDA report before she got the vaccine. She also said the research behind the vaccine has been going on for years now. Research into coronaviruses — one of which causes COVID-19 — is not something new.
“With the massive death and destruction of this virus, we all need to do our part to get vaccinated, to protect our communities to protect our family and to get the economy going,” Zellner says.
What are the currently available vaccines?
There are two vaccines that are the market: Pfizer and Moderna. They both result in about 94% protection from the coronavirus.
Who gets the vaccine first?
Those working with COVID-19 patients directly are the first ones to receive the vaccine. Health experts say that the vaccine will be available to the general public sometime in the spring.
How does the vaccine work?
A bit of the virus’ genetic information is injected, which antibodies then recognize to destroy.
What are the risks involved?
Side effects include pain and swelling at the injection site, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There also might be fever, chills, fatigue and headache.