Local healthcare workers prepare for 2nd round of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

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INDIANAPOLIS — It’s nearly been 21 days since the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine went out to healthcare workers in Indianapolis which means it’s about time for them to get their second injection.  

Wednesday marks 21 days since the first shots went out on December 16 at IU Health. 

Dr. Warren Gavin, a hospitalist at IU Health Methodist, and some of his colleagues got their first round on December 16. 

After that shot, Dr. Gavin said his arm felt a little sore the next day, and he had a slight headache but nothing too severe. 

Gavin said this second shot is important to make sure he gets the full protection of the vaccine.  

He said he knows there is the possibility it may come with more severe side effects, but the protection it can provide tops that. 

He did his research on the studies of the vaccine and says he couldn’t wait to get it because of the impact it would have.  

“Overall when I think about that second one, I’m thankful. First of all, that we have a vaccine because we’ve been battling this with no great weapons. We have dexamethasone and remdesivir, and they may offer some benefit, but this is our first big weapon — this vaccination,” Dr. Gavin said. 

He is scheduled to take his second dose Wednesday afternoon. 

Dr. Gavin says he is expecting to be sore again in his arm where he gets the shot, possibly have another headache and maybe even be fatigue. 

For Gavin, the decision to get the vaccine was automatic and he says he was actually surprised to hear that some people are hesitant to get it.  

“Even within the walls of the hospital. There are people that have reservations to getting it,” Dr. Gavin said. 

For anyone who is hesitant about getting the vaccine, Dr. Gavin recommends speaking with your healthcare professionals about the decision. 

Now he’s looking forward to getting his next one and being fully covered. 

“I will be a little bit more confident. I’ll be 95+ percent confident and I will be relieved to have that protection. Now that doesn’t mean that I’m dropping this mask and I’m not going to be careful in the hospital. That’s not what that means, but I will be more confident in the protection that I do have because of the vaccination.”  

He says it will still be important to wear a mask and socially distant even after getting the vaccine. But as more people get it, he is hopeful for the future. 

“I’m excited and I’m thankful. I’m hopeful that this is the beginning of the end of Coronavirus. And if enough of us can get vaccinated, it will be,” said Dr. Gavin. 

Associate Chief Medical Executive for IU Health, Dr. Paul Calkins is also warning that the second dose may have slightly more severe side effects than the first, but it’s still important to get. 

“Because the first dose sort of primes your immune system to recognize the components of the virus are in your body, but the second dose, when your body recognizes when it’s there it’s going to react more strongly than it did the first time. Which is the reason why your immunity rates go up so dramatically,” said Dr. Calkins. 

Dr. Calkins said he’s given out about 80 shots so far and the hospital has given about 24,000. And there have not been any prolonged severe side effects that he knows of.  

He’s had some patients experience sore arms where the shot went in and maybe some swelling. But despite that, he said getting the second shot is key to making sure they get the full protection.  

“The second dose is… you have to do it. Recognizing that it might be uncomfortable, it’s less uncomfortable than having COVID. The recommendations that the vaccines are only reliable if you get both doses,” Dr. Calkins said. 

He said the second dose may come with more arm swelling or soreness, fever and muscle aches. 

Since side effects may be more severe, Dr. Calkins said they have been recommended not to give everyone in a particular unit the shot on the same day, just in case they have to take a day to recover. 

He also said it’s still important to practice social distancing and wearing masks even after being vaccinated. 

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