By Laci Sutton / Staff writer

The long-awaited vaccine for COVID-19 has begun distribution across the United States. As of Jan. 15 the CDC has reported a total of 263,175 doses distributed to Kansas. Out of those 263,175 doses, the CDC reports 97,779 doses administered.

Kansas vaccine distribution is based on five phases by population. Kansas is currently in phase one of the vaccination process. This phase includes healthcare workers, residents/patients in long-term care facilities, and other workers critical to pandemic response continuity.

Due to the severity of the global pandemic, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the COVID-19 vaccines.

Being approved in such a short amount of time has raised some concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Many people are hesitant to receive the vaccine once it becomes available to them.

For Hutchinson Community College ADN instructor Kelsi Francis, there was no doubt in her mind as she received the vaccine.

“Working as a nurse on the frontlines of a pandemic, I have seen the sickest of the sick,” Francis said. “Receiving this vaccine to protect my family and patients I care for was the least I could do.”

Francis received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Prior to getting vaccinated, Francis looked for reliable, knowledgeable sources to research the vaccine.

“Fortunately, I work alongside some of the most prestigious infectious disease doctors and was able to ask questions to curtail my knowledge, “ Francis said.

HutchCC ADN student Rachel Lambotte also received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
“Through research of credible sources, I made the choice that I felt comfortable with the technology used to develop the vaccine.” Lambotte said. “By the time it was offered to me, I felt OK with saying ‘yes, I will take the vaccine.’”

The internet, especially social media, is full of stories depicting people’s reactions after receiving the vaccine. As with any vaccination, everyone can react differently. One person may react drastically worse than the next.

“The initial vaccine left me with a sore arm, no different than receiving any vaccine,” Francis said. “However, the second vaccine did implicate my immune system response and caused some side effects that were short lived.”

Lambotte also experienced the initial sore arm, but after receiving the second dose she also experienced minor fatigue.

The COVID-19 vaccine is not a live vaccine. This means that if someone who has been vaccinated begins to develop symptoms, they aren’t contagious. Their body is reacting with a normal immune response to the new agent that was introduced.

“I have worked in an ICU throughout the whole of COVID,” Lambotte said. “It is intense and devastating. I hope the vaccines will help our healthcare team and the community get in front of the virus.”

As Kansas progresses through the COVID-19 vaccination phases, the public is encouraged to conduct their own research from credible sources. Reach out to healthcare professionals and address concerns.

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