Shot in the arm

On Friday morning, in just under 24 hours after it was received, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was being injected into members of the medical staff of Clarion Hospital.

“This is an exciting day, and we are encouraged by the number of staff and providers in line to get the vaccine,” Clarion Hospital President Steven Davis said. “We view this as a flame of hope and believe it represents light at the end of the tunnel for all of us. Hope is a special gift, particularly at this time and in this season.”

Dr. Michael Hoh, the hospital’s director of emergency medicine, said he has seen a surge in emergency cases during the pandemic.

“Hopefully, with the mass vaccination we will develop a herd immunity,” he said. “That will markedly decrease the number of infected patients requiring emergency services. By doing so, we will be able to save lives.”

Leslie Walters, the hospital’s chief nursing officer, said the vaccine marks a “historic and crucial moment” in the fight against the coronavirus.

“It provides a path forward in the prevention of the disease, helps to protect our health care staff and allows our staff to continue to care for the community,” she said.

Side effects have been reported since the development of the vaccine, but that doesn’t worry Dr. Anie Perard, Clarion Hospital’s chief medical officer.

“I am not concerned about side effects, because the side effects are typically pretty mild,” Perard said. “Most people tolerate it and don’t have any issues. You could feel a little sore and have aches and muscle pains. Those things are remedied with Ibuprofen or Tylenol.”

Dr. Catherine Cunningham, site director of hospital medicine, also expressed no worry about potential side effects.

“I am not concerned about reactions to the vaccine at all,” Cunningham said. “It is not a virus you are getting, but a vaccine. We are not injecting the virus. It stimulates the body to make its own antibodies. You could have a reaction just because it is foreign to your body.”

Perard said she is “more afraid of COVID-19 than I am of the vaccine. We have seen what COVID-19 has done to us nationally and internationally.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to do the best they can to protect themselves and everyone around you. It is the right thing to do.”

Cunningham said Clarion Hospital’s leaders have a “responsibility” to take the vaccine and “be strong for our communities. This is the best way I have to protect myself and my family.”

Hoh described the inoculations as being similar to the mass vaccinations for smallpox, polio and measles.

“Vaccinations do work,” he said. “The key is that we need to convince all Americans to get vaccinated.”