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CHI frontline staff discuss personal experiences with vaccine, look ahead to 2021

The Pfizer vaccine was administered to CHI workers
Posted at 2:03 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 23:22:40-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Frontline workers in the metro, who were among the first to receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine last week, shared their experiences on Tuesday while also looking ahead to 2021.

Dr. Jason Shuda with CHI Health said he feels good after getting the shot other than some minor aches that went away quickly. He said getting the vaccine was important not only to protect himself but friends and family as well.

"It's important to think of others and think of my family," Shuda said. "Extended family, namely and some of them with preexisting conditions or chronic illnesses that would put them at risk. And as a provider, it's really hard to go to work every day and then go home."

The vaccine requires two doses taken a few weeks apart. Shuda said early data suggests side effects to the second dose should be similar to the first and the vaccine has 94 to 95 percent efficacy rates.

While the vaccines were quickly developed, he said patients should know the science behind it was not. He said the developers of the vaccines were able to leverage science and financial assistance from the government to get a vaccine out relatively quickly in dire circumstances. The pandemic has claimed over 300,000 American lives.

Vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna have been approved and have begun to be distributed to certain groups, with more widespread availability expected in 2021.

Shuda is hoping 2021 brings a more normal way of life, especially by next summer and fall. He said the vaccine is a step toward that.

Some say they are experiencing minor side effects from the vaccine. Cory Shield, a DO, says that's to be expected.

"You want some reaction from the vaccine, it's part of the vaccine, it means your immune system is working. It's responding if you have a more robust response," Shield said.

Dr. Sebastian Lane, a first-year resident at the Creighton University School of Medicine, said getting the vaccine was important to show people that it's safe to get. Lane is a musician on the side.

"I was actually going to be touring," Lane said. "I actually had about 45 shows get canceled from January till July when I started residency."

Once the pandemic subsides, Lane is looking forward to getting back out and doing shows because he feels music brings people together.

While there are concerns surrounding the vaccine, the frontline workers who spoke during Tuesday’s Zoom meeting said it’s important to inform patients that the vaccine carries a relatively low risk. He said doctors understand the fear and it's their job to put that fear to rest.

CHI Health CEO Cliff Robertson hesitated to make predictions about a possible post-Christmas coronavirus surge but noted there were no jumps in cases or hospitalizations in the region after Thanksgiving. He said it’s a sign people did a good job of social distancing, wearing masks and limiting exposure to those outside their home. While other parts of the county weren’t as lucky, Robertson said it appears those in the Midwest celebrated responsibly.

Robertson also addressed elective procedures, some of which were delayed or canceled last month. He said it’s a hospital-by-hospital situation but they’re hoping to get many of the delayed procedures done soon, possibly by the end of the month.

Looking forward to 2021, Shield said the goal is to get the vaccine out to as many people as possible. He said it will take a group effort to distribute it and hopes the strain on the health care system subsides after a very hectic 2020.

Robertson is hoping for a “boring” 2021 after all the extra work the coronavirus created this year but said people can’t let their guard down and need to continue to do the things that work like washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing.

Related: Gov. Ricketts: 32k Moderna vaccines expected to arrive this week

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