Teachers Receive COVID Vaccine


Boushra Raache

John Lehman sits and grades papers after first dose of vaccine.

Nabila Siddiqui, Co-editor

    The COVID-19 virus initially reached the United States in late January of 2020 and proceeded to shut down many establishments mid-March. Now, nearly a year later, Arkansas distributed the highly anticipated COVID vaccine to its frontline workers in the first phase (1A) of the vaccine roll out, then moved to phase 1B including teachers. Starting mid-January, the district’s staff and faculty received the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

   “They had a teacher vaccine clinic Friday, but I actually got my shot a couple days before that because Mercy Hospital had its own separate clinic,” AP Statistics teacher Josh Adams said.

   Prior to his vaccination, Adams and others held no reservations about the shot or its side effects because of the extensive research they performed in the months leading up to the release of the vaccine. 

   “The development of the vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna…was approved for emergency use by the FDA…I trust the decision by the FDA and listen regularly to the health and medical experts in their assessment that this vaccine is safe and extremely effective due to the strong safety measures put in place by government agencies and the FDA,” physics teacher John Lehman said.

   Unpredictable side effects in the earliest news reports about the vaccine for the first dose initially caused citizens to shy away from the vaccine. Members of the Southside staff, however, reported only minor side effects.

   “There was some pain at the injection site in my arm about 8-10 hours after the shot was administered and there was some lingering soreness for 2-3 days afterwards, but no side effects past that,” Lehman said. 

   As the first dose of vaccinations comes to an end, attention turns towards the second dose. With the completion of the second dose, the FDA reports a 95% immunity to the COVID-19 virus. 

   “The second dose is designed as something of a booster shot to help the immune system fight off the virus more strongly…I would still plan on getting the second shot so as not to disrupt the vaccination cycle that the manufacturers have set forth in order to make the most effective vaccine,” Lehman said.

   The second dose of the COVID vaccine raises a new set of concerns among members of the community. The primary concern surrounding it remains the side effects, but this time, the people that will be receiving the vaccine are calling the severity of the side effects into question more. 

   “The second dose is going to have a higher symptom reaction because it actually is now generating the antibodies and is going through a full reaction attack on the, you know, the virus proteins,” Adams said, “so I fully expect when I get the second dose to probably feel more effects because that’s what I’ve been saying. It feels like you’re maybe going to get the flu for about a day and then it’s done with Pfizer.”

   After getting the Moderna vaccine, a colleague of Adams, at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, developed severe symptoms. Despite this, Adams remains unphased about the second shot and even looks forward to receiving it again because of the journals, news articles, and papers he read. 

   “I’ll read the synopsis that I’ll see in science journalism. And then I’ll read the paper, try to find more of a technical synopsis of it. And then my wife is in biology lab tech. So if I had questions I could ask her and she could help muddle me through what the terms I was reading. But I didn’t see anything that was, you know, a dramatic cause. I think there are always concerns when you’re injecting something into your system. I think sometimes that the concerns do get misplaced,” Adams said.

   School health officials like nurse Julie Simpson urge the importance of the staff and faculty deciding what suits them best based on research and removing any sort of bias they may have before doing so.

   “Some people are at much more risk than others so I think you need to take all of the person’s individual health information into account with their health care provider and make the smartest decision for that person and leave out opinions and come up with what is really the medically indicated, safest answer for every person,” Simpson said.

      Teachers like Adams and Lehman remain optimistic about the vaccine and its long term effects based on projections from sources like the ADH, NIH, and CDC. 

   “It (the vaccine) is the single greatest tool we have in combating the virus and working to end the pandemic and getting things back to normal,” Lehman said. 

  Officials like Simpson agree with the importance of the vaccine , but urge diligence in the currently accepted protocols to assist the general public’s health. 

   “I think we will still have to practice all the guidelines until we have proven confirmation that the spread is under control.” Simpson said.

   Although Simpson agrees the vaccine marks a significant step towards returning to the pre-COVID era, she stresses the importance of looking at each case separately. 

  “I do think the vaccine is important, I also think it is a very personal decision that has to take into account your individual health status.  You need to get your information from a reliable health source. If you still have questions or concerns, you need to take the information to your physician or your primary care provider and determine what is best for you. As a general rule, I do believe in the vaccine, but it still needs to be handled case by case.” Simpson said.