On Nov. 9, the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech announced a developed coronavirus vaccine candidate that was 90% effective.
Soon after their announcement, the process of distributing the vaccine to healthcare workers and essential workers began across the United States and in State College.
One healthcare worker who received the vaccine was Emily Shearer, a registered nurse in critical care services at Mount Nittany Medical Center.
“I felt hopeful,” Shearer said via email.
Shearer said she has taken both doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. She received the first dose on Dec. 19 and the second dose on Jan. 8.
“It feels as though I have an extra layer of protection that eases the anxiety of contracting the virus as I work around it every day,” Shearer said.
Shearer added that she felt some minor side effects after taking the vaccine.
“With the first dose of the vaccine, I only experienced some arm soreness at the vaccine injection site. With the second dose of the vaccine, I experienced some body aches and fatigue as well as some arm soreness,” Shearer said.
Shearer advised people to be careful about what they read about the vaccine.
“Do your own research, read reliable articles to understand the components of the vaccine and how it works to protect you from contracting [the coronavirus],” Shearer said.
Shearer said people should consult a doctor or healthcare provider if they are still skeptical about if it’s safe for individual use depending on their medical history.
While she was optimistic about the vaccine, Shearer also warned the fight against the coronavirus is not over.
“Please continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands often,” Shearer said. “We need everyone’s help to see the other side of this pandemic.”
Some students have received the coronavirus vaccine as well, one being Kylie DeWald.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health modified eligibility requirements to receive the coron…
DeWald (sophomore-biobehavioral health) received the vaccine because she had been working in a medical center in Danville, Pennsylvania. She said she works in food service and sees “a lot of patients.”
DeWald said she was slightly nervous about the vaccine prior to taking it.
“I told my parents I was not going to get it. It was just too soon,” DeWald said. “But the more I thought about it, I just realized there's no reason to feel unsafe about it.”
Unlike Shearer, DeWald has only taken the first dose of the vaccine.
“I feel very confident in it. I am very excited to get the second dose,” DeWald said.
While she did not feel any immediate side effects, DeWald said she felt some minor side effects the day after receiving the vaccine.
“There was a little fatigue,” she said. “I slept an extra hour and had a little loss of appetite.”
DeWald said those skeptical about the vaccine should consider the people around them.
“If you have grandparents still around, it would be nice to not have to worry so much about them,” DeWald said. “[The Penn State community] has a very high rate of coronavirus, and our hospitals are very overwhelmed.”
Sean Terrey is another student who received the vaccine.
Terrey (junior-political science) received the vaccine because he has a security job at a nursing home. He received the first dose on Jan. 7 and is scheduled to get the second dose on Feb. 1.
“I think there’s been a lot of speculation about it,” Terrey said. “Personally, I trusted the process that the FDA had put it through.”
Terrey said he wanted to make a statement to his friends and family that he trusted the vaccine by taking the first dose.
“If this is something that I can do, it’s something that you can do too,” Terrey said.
Terrey also said he did not feel any major side effects other than a sore arm and some “sluggishness” on the next day.
“It felt like someone had punched me in the arm,” Terrey said.
Terrey advised people to read the efficacy reports for the vaccine if they feel skeptical about it.
“Just read the research,” Terrey said. “To anybody who is a healthy young adult living in State College, for the better of our community, it is important that you do get [the vaccine].”
Terrey also encouraged people who have taken the vaccine to promote it through social media to prove that it’s safe.
“Make it shown that you think it’s safe and effective.”