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March 07th, 2021

covid vaccine rotary meetingLocal Registered Nurse Melissa Parker answers some questions from the Liberal Rotary Club regarding the COVID-19 vaccine recently announced. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The COVID-19 vaccine is now being given to people, and many people have questions about it. 

To help answer some of those questions, local healthcare providers presented some information to the Liberal Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon. The discussion fit well into the club’s mission, as the club has been instrumental in vaccine distribution for many years. 

One of the first questions asked during the discussion was about adverse reactions to the vaccine so far.

“So far, there have been about 200,000 doses administered in the U.S., and among those, there were only six people who had adverse reactions to the vaccine,” local registered nurse Melissa Parker said. “Something to keep in mind is we don’t know what some people could be allergic to, so we have to monitor everyone for possible signs of a reaction, especially if they have a history of anaphylactic reactions. When you hear it’s only six cases out of 200,000, that’s a very, very tiny number, and those people were able to be helped.”

“What I have seen at the hospital is for the most part, those who have received the vaccine have had a normal immune response to it,” fellow registered nurse Carmen Sumner added. “When we’ve given the vaccine, we’ve told people they might experience some side effects like soreness at the injection site, some fatigue and maybe a fever, but that’s a good sign because it shows your body is working to develop that immune response and developing those antibodies. When you get the vaccine and if you feel a little rough for the next few days afterward, that’s a good sign that your body’s developing the proper response. It also means your body is memorizing that code in the vaccine so it can attack it. Also at the hospital, we’re recommending some of our employees take an antihistamine about an hour before they get their second dose of the vaccine to dampen down some of that potential allergic response. I was happy to get my vaccine – the virus has put a bad strain on our healthcare system and our county health system. It’s also put a bad strain on families and local businesses. Whatever we can do to stop this virus is so important. There are many scientists who are saying there needs to be something like 85 percent saturation for this in order to achieve herd immunity, which we’re all very ready for. But in order to get to that place, we have to have people vaccinated so we can get around and do the things we enjoy safely.”

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Sumner also gave assurance the vaccines are safe. 

“The vaccine safety system makes sure all of these vaccines are as safe as possible, and all the COVID-19 vaccines being used have gone through the same safety tests and meet the same standards as any other vaccines produced,” Sumner said. “I know a lot of people have asked ‘How was it able to get out so quickly?’ but there’s been research and work on SARS/coronavirus-type vaccines for roughly 18 years, so a lot of that research was able to be applied to what’s happening now, and that’s how so much of that was able to be done so quickly, it’s not like any of this is brand new.”

“And there are different types of the vaccine available, with most of them being given in two shots, one at a time and spaced apart,” Parker added. “This was definitely an extraordinary circumstance and we’re happy that research had already been done in order to help fight this. The first shot gets your body ready, and the second shot, which you’ll get about three weeks later, is to make sure you’re fully protected.”

Sumner also went through the distribution phases that are in place for Kansas. 

“The CDC gave out guidelines with that, and the federal government then allowed states to make some changes to the phases to fit their needs,” Sumner said. “We’re in Phase 1 right now, with Phase 2 happening possibly either near the end of this month or the beginning of February. Kansas is following the CDC guidelines on the distribution. Those phases were released earlier this week and people can look at them more in detail online. I also want to emphasize we have no say at all in how the phases work or each phase’s official start date, that’s all up to the state, and when the individual phases officially start, of course we’ll put out that information.”

There will also be work done to spread the word about the vaccine in the coming weeks. 

“In some ways, we’re playing it by ear because we have to actually wait for the vaccine to get here,” Parker said. “But as we get the vaccine here, we’ll continue vaccinating people as much as we can and we’ll just keep going through the phases as the state instructs.”

“From the hospital standpoint, we’ll also have announcements on our Web site and also our social media pages to keep the community informed on what’s going on,” Sumner added. “But we also have to wait until we get the vaccine and just like with the phases, we can’t control when that actually physically happens. Things are happening so rapidly with this and we’re doing our best to keep the community informed from the hospital. We’re also doing a lot of speaking at meetings like this to get the necessary information out there. We’re not running away from any of this, we don’t have that option. The most important thing is getting this information out as much as we can and making sure the information we give out is as accurate as possible.”

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