Meet Alejandro: Building Immunity Against COVID-19

Meet Alejandro, a healthcare worker who recently received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Her Campus (HC): What can you tell me about the COVID-19 vaccine?

Alejandro (A): I haven’t read many articles on what exactly the vaccine constitutes. However, I have heard from other healthcare professionals about the vaccine and also from those who work in different methods of research. Based on the information I received, I know that it is an mRNA vaccine that is very similar to the shingles vaccine which came out in 2013. In regard to the COVID-19 vaccine, there are currently two different vaccines that are on the market. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine was supposed to be released in January; yet, it was pushed back to February. The trials for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have a 94 percent rate of effectiveness. Based on this percentage of effectiveness, I trust in the vaccine. I know people who have had adverse side effects from the vaccine. At the end of the day, the vaccine does provide effective immunity against COVID-19.

HC: Why did you get the vaccine?

A: Besides being a part of history and being one of the first groups who received the vaccine, I am a healthcare professional. I am a scribe and a medical assistant at a pain management clinic. Many of our patients that are older (typically between the ages of 60, 70 and 80) are very high risk. The reason why I got the vaccine was not only for myself but also to protect the patients that I work with. I have been very careful in the practice whenever I interact with patients. In the event that someone brings COVID into the office, I want to make sure that I have done my part to be immune and do not contribute to the spread of the virus. I do not want to put the patients at risk. I also have personal reasons for getting the vaccine. I do not want to spread the vaccine to my family members who are at high risk. I am also cognizant of the overweight population that exists.

Selfie of Alejandro holding his COVID-19 card Photo by Alejandro de la Cova

HC: What criteria did you meet in order to receive the vaccine?

A: Right now, they are only vaccinating healthcare professionals and those who are over the age of 65. That is what I know as of now especially in the state of Florida, and it also depends on what part of Florida you live in and what hospital you are getting vaccinated at. I got vaccinated at Northwest Medical Center, located in Tamarac. That medical center is only vaccinating their staff and essential workers such as firefighters and policemen.

HC: Did you experience any adverse effects after receiving the first dose?

A: After receiving the first dose, about four hours later, my left arm started to hurt where the injection was put. The pain spread to my shoulder and down to my elbow. My whole arm was sore. It was not unbearable, just sore and a bit uncomfortable. The next day my arm was still a bit sore, but it did not get progressively worse. I couldn’t really lift my arm past a certain point. About 12 hours after receiving the vaccine, I started experiencing soreness in my joints. I also noticed I had increased sensitivity in those areas.

HC: What advice do you give to others who are thinking of getting the vaccine?

A: I am fully a proponent of getting the vaccine. I think that is one of the only ways that we will overcome this pandemic. Until enough of us are vaccinated and become immune to this virus, we really need to beat the virus in this way and do our part. I understand that many people are unsure about the effects of the vaccine. As I said, there are other mRNAs that are available to us (the shingles vaccine is one of them). A lot of people are wary about how the vaccine was created in less than a year. You have to think that a lot of the vaccines that are currently on the market are super slow in their development time. There are not enough funds for those vaccines. However, the COVID vaccine has money to support it, and companies are working together to put this out there. That needs to be taken into consideration. In addition, we do not know the long-term effects of COVID. We do not know what it does to our bodies in terms of our blood and organs. We only know the short-term effects like an acute infection. We do not know how someone who had COVID in 2020 will experience side effects a couple of years down the line. The same can be said about the vaccine but if the vaccine can prevent the infection in the first place, then we would not experience what those COVID effects could be like. Those are my thoughts about receiving the vaccine, and this was my experience with the vaccine.

Thank you, Alejandro, for sharing your story of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. We appreciate your work in the healthcare field. As you mentioned, we have to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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