Teachers lined up and down the Woodstock North High School gym on February 12 awaiting their first COVID vaccine, nerves flying high as they inched closer to the front.
“Nervous doesn’t quite describe it,” states Heidie Dunn, East Campus English teacher. “I was kind of filled with all sorts of emotions. Hope, relief, and just feeling that maybe the ending of this crazy year is getting closer with each person who is able to get a shot.”
Before teachers, health care workers along with other first responders were able to receive both doses of the vaccine and already know what to expect. That turned out to be a great help in easing some of those fluttering feelings.
“I have several friends in the healthcare field who have already gotten both doses,” explains Maxwell Zerndt. “I talked to them about their experience getting both doses and knew what to expect in terms of the process of getting vaccinated and possible side effects of the vaccine. My dad got his first dose two days before I got mine, so I was able to see how it affected him first and he had very mild side effects.”
The vaccine has proven to be extremely effective since being rolled out in late 2020, but has different effects for different people, particularly the second doses of the Pzfizer and Moderna shots. In addition to sore arms, some may receive a fever, chills and nausea while others feel no symptoms at all.
“I had a sore arm the next day,” Dunn said, “but it got better with a little exercise. The shot you have to get for tetanus was worse in that regard.”
Still, some are apprehensive about the vaccine. Mass funding has allowed the vaccine to be produced quickly, and many are hesitant despite its proven safety record and effectiveness.
For Dunn, the decision wasn’t difficult at all. “I know that getting a vaccine will help me spend more time with my 85 year old mother without worrying about endangering her.”
Although the task was daunting, the nervous thoughts and anxiety surrounding the first dose of the vaccine was truly nothing to worry about. Rumors of second dose side effects made teachers more apprehensive.
“I was much more nervous about getting my second dose,” said Zerndt. “I knew a lot of people who had already gotten their second dose and had some adverse side effects to it, such as headache, body aches, fever, chills, and more.
Anxiety filled up MCHS’s faculty and staff as the date of their second appointment approached — at Woodstock North High School again on March 11.
”I would not say that I was hesitant, but I was nervous,” Zerndt added. “All of the teachers here at McHenry got our second doses on Thursday, but we still had to work on Friday. So, I was nervous that I would be too sick to work. Luckly, at that point we were still working from home, so even though I did not feel well at all I was able to power through and make it through the school day.”
The side effects hit some teachers hard, many of whom taught the following Friday during a synchronous learning day. “Fever, chills, and body ache,” stated special education teacher Donna Vesely.
Despite the negative side effects, many still encourage others to get the vaccine.
“100% I would recommend that everyone gets the vaccine as soon as possible,” Zerndt said. “Getting vaccinated is the best chance we have to get back to “pre-covid life” and a sense of normalcy. My whole family has either been fully vaccinated or has at least gotten their first dose. I have also been encouraging my friends to get it done as well. My hope is that once enough of the population is vaccinated we can start to go back to normal and we will get to spend time with the people we have been away from for almost an entire year.”
The vaccine may not be what everyone wants, especially those who are scared of needles, but health experts agree that it is something the public needs to return to a sense of normalcy.
“I believe that people should get vaccinated once they get the chance to,” Zerndt said. “I believe that getting a majority of the population vaccinated is the best chance we have to get life ‘back to normal’, which I think we can all agree would be a good thing.”
Dunn voiced a similar opinion. “I feel like it is another step in protecting those around us and helping the country get back to pre-COVID.”