Healthcare workers monitoring COVID-19 vaccine side effects after getting second dose

Simultaneously, the hospital is excited about the arrival of the second round of the Pfizer and...
Simultaneously, the hospital is excited about the arrival of the second round of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, but it has also frustrated MMH staff.(Kate Porter)
Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 6:00 AM CST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As the United States continues its rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, frontline healthcare workers across the country have begun to receive the second dose.

UofL Health administered second doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine to the first five healthcare workers Monday, including Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Smith.

Smith told WAVE 3 News unlike three weeks ago, he did experience side effects after receiving the second shot.

“The first dose I had no side effects whatsoever,” Smith said. “I didn’t even have a sore arm. The second dose I’ve had a lot of swollen lymph nodes in my arm, in my neck. That’s one of the side effects. It just means your immune system’s working. I also probably had a little bit of time there one night where I had a little bit of fever and chills, but they went away.”

Smith said the more severe side effects typically come after the second shot, because the first shot has generated COVID-19 antibodies in the recipients’ bodies, which then attack when the booster injection is given.

“You’ve got circulating antibodies,” Smith said. “You’ve got immune cells waiting for this and when they hit, it can rapidly turn on and it rapidly deploys all of its defenses to make this go away. And that’s what we want.”

Kaitlin Boone, an ICU nurse at Norton Audubon Hospital, is set to receive her second shot Friday. She experienced mild side effects to her first dose, including a sore arm and mild fatigue.

She told WAVE 3 News she knows more severe side effects could be possible, but it will not deter her from receiving the second dose, and hopes it does not deter others from receiving the shots when they’re made available to the public.

“I miss being around my family,” Boone said. “I miss being able to hug them and be around them. So me personally, getting the vaccine, hopefully will help me be able to do that within the next month or so. I would say do your own research and make the decision for yourself. But really, to help us get through this, I think the vaccine is going to be a very important part.”

Smith told WAVE 3 News he expects vaccinations to speed up in the coming weeks, now that the holidays are over. He said the vaccine may be made available to the at-risk public -- people over 65 and those with pre-existing conditions -- at some point in March.

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