As vaccines distribute throughout Texas, members get vaccinated to help prevent the spread
With COVID-19 vaccines produced at a high rate, Texas is continuously sending vaccines to doctors offices, hospitals, clinics and ‘vaccine hubs’–– which are large vaccination sites to provide more people the vaccine.
Over 3.5 million doses, including both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been administered, in the state, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. However, Texas is still at vaccination Phase 1A and 1B, which includes medical professionals, people 65 years old or older and people 16 years or older with underlying health conditions. Among the doses administered, several members of the ESD community have been vaccinated; reasons for receiving the vaccine include being a healthcare worker or volunteer for Children’s Medical City, having a health condition or simply being at the right place at the right time.
“In the beginning of January, I got an email from Children’s that they were offering volunteers vaccination, and I almost deleted the email, but I read it again, and it said ‘following sign up for your vaccination’,” ESD parent Kim Bannister said. “Now, I haven’t been volunteering physically on campus since last year, but I still do things for organizing gifts for kids with cancer or whatever their needs were. After a long consideration, I decided to sign up.”
Because Bannister has bad allergies and her son had a negative experience with a vaccination when he was three weeks old, she was at first hesitant about getting the vaccine.
“I was just wrestling with the fact that no one where my parents live is receiving the vaccine yet, and I have not seen or felt their touch in over a year,” Bannister said. “I [thought], ‘You know what, if God would create people with such beautiful minds to create this vaccination in such a scary time, and there have been brilliant people that have risen to the occasion all other times and saved lives, then I am going to trust in that.’ Taking the vaccine made me feel a part of helping prevent the spread and keep people healthy; it was much bigger than what my worries were for my body.”
According to the CDC, people who have immediate allergic reactions to other vaccines or injectable therapy should be cautionary when taking the vaccine. If a person is allergic to polysorbate or had a severe or immediate reaction when receiving the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, they should not receive the vaccine. However, if someone has a history of food, pet, environmental, latex or oral medication allergy, they may proceed with vaccination. After receiving a vaccination, CDC recommends all patients be observed for at least 15 minutes on-sight to ensure no reactions occur.
“When I went to Children’s, it was so well organized, and I went at a designated time slot, but I was still so nervous,” Bannister said. “But once I met with my darling nurse, it was just such a soothing experience. She read everything that was in the vaccine and explained what was going on like I was a little kid because that is usually who they work with. I had my epi-pen with me in case I had an anaphylactic reaction, but I was just fine. Then, I had to sit there for 30 minutes.”
Common side effects after vaccination include pain and swelling on the arm at the injection site and also fever, chills, fatigue and headaches throughout the body.
“By the nighttime, my arm was sore, and when I went to bed, I felt fine,” Bannister said. “But at midnight, I started to have the chills, got extremely nauseous and was really tired. It lasted just under 24 hours, so I never got really really sick. I called my doctor and he’s like, ‘[The vaccine] is kicking in… Your body’s fighting, and it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing.’”
Like Bannister, school nurse Carla Thomas also received the Moderna vaccine and had a reaction. According to The Atlantic, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain the COVID-19 mRNA that instructs the body’s cells to produce the coronavirus spike protein. These mRNA molecules are covered in lipid nanoparticles, which make the immune system fight back against the vaccine causing flu-like symptoms.
“For my first dose, I took it before I was visiting my grandson in Galveston, and as I was packing, I got the worst chills I have ever had in my life,” Thomas said. “I thought everything was fine until 12 hours later as we were driving, I got teeth chattering chills that lasted about an hour. Twenty-four hours after I got the shot, I was at the grocery store in Galveston, and all of a sudden, every bone in my back just started hurting, and I felt like I was a 100 years old…I woke up the next morning, and I was fine and had no other reaction.”
ESD parent Dr. James Pfister has a private primary care practice in the Dallas area that is also a COVID-19 vaccination site. Currently, Dr. Pfister is vaccinating his patients that pertain to the vaccination Phases 1A and 1B per Texas Health and Human Services order. Dr. Pfister applied to obtain vaccinations by filling out an application form to tell the state his patient population, how many vaccines he believes he needs and what type of storage he has to store the vaccine. After being approved by the state he received 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine and started scheduling appointments.
“We can’t just give [the vaccine] to our friends and family,” Dr. Pfister said. “We have to give it to the people that fit the list that the state is telling us who we can give it to. Once you open a bar [of Moderna vaccines], you have to use that volume within six hours, so you have to have it all set up nicely, so you don’t waste any of it. Since my office is smaller, we only did 10 per day for 10 days.”
When the Moderna vaccines arrive at Dr. Pfister’s office, they arrive in a freezer, and if left in a freezer, the vaccines can last up to six months. Once they are placed in the fridge, they can last for 30 days. As for the Pfizer vaccine, if it is placed in a freezer at a temperature of at least -76 degrees Fahrenheit, it can last up to six months, and if placed in just a refrigerator, it can only last five days.
“If I opened a bottle and did not have 10 people ready to go, it would not be that much of a concern,” Dr. Pfister said. “There are plenty of people that want the vaccine, and I can easily call another 10 or 20 more patients easily to get to my office within 30 minutes.”
In the beginning of January, Texas was distributing vaccines all around the state, and 877,000 Texans received the vaccine in four weeks, according to The Texas Tribune. Now, vaccines are prioritized to be delivered to the 28 vaccination hubs around Texas that are run by counties and hospitals, which include the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Fair Park and UT Southwestern Medical Center. With many traveling long distances for vaccinations, senior Vanessa Smitty* and her family received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine from a clinic in Honey Grove, Texas.
“My dad’s coworker has a family that lives in [Honey Grove], and he was telling everyone working in the building to go there because they were throwing away vaccines,” Smitty said. “At the end of the day, the clinic workers were on the streets asking if anyone wanted a vaccine, so they were asking people to bring out all your families so we went.”
Currently, the federal government nor any state in the U.S. require Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. In addition, Dr. Anthony Fauci shared that he would “definitely not” support a nationwide mandate of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We will not require vaccines for teachers or students unless it becomes a mandated vaccine by the State of Texas or the Federal government,” Thomas said. “Currently, the vaccine has not been rolled out to either teachers or students in Texas. However, the federal government left it up to individual states to set their own priorities, and teachers were placed in Phase 1C, despite pleas from the Texas Education Agency.”