Relief, Hope Unexpected Side Effects of COVID-19 Vaccine
Pocono Record Op-ed: Mary Grace Conklin, RN, MSN, CCRN
I have worked at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Pocono for 35 years, and while my daily role is working as a registered nurse in the cardiovascular/electrophysiology lab, I recently agreed to become one of the lead COVID-19 vaccinators at the hospital.
I believe being part of this vaccination process is perhaps the most important thing I have done in my nursing career. The staff at LVH–Pocono has been working around the clock to care for our COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic, and to see them get vaccinated has brought hope to everyone. They have been putting their own health at risk to save others, so receiving the vaccine is a huge milestone for my colleagues, and I am so proud to be helping them achieve the immunity that will protect them and our patients.
Even beyond the health care workers, as those 75 and older became eligible for vaccination, we were flooded with people whose excitement was palpable. I truly think many of them would have jumped and danced if they could have, and it made my heart sing to know I was helping them. Giving these vaccines is a top priority in my mind, so I sign up to administer them as often as I can. With each person I vaccinate, I feel that is one less person we may have to care for with COVID-19. You never know if that person might have an underlying health condition or if they could have potentially been one of the ones to become critically ill and die.
I keep that in mind with every person who sits before me waiting to be vaccinated. I want to vaccinate as many people as possible, so I don’t spend time on small talk. What I do spend time on is making sure that everyone is comfortable and that any questions they have about the vaccine or potential side effects are answered. We have a very organized system at LVH–Pocono, and all of the people receiving the vaccine are just so happy to have the opportunity. I’ve noticed that many of the people like to keep the process moving because they don’t want to delay the next person. It is so refreshing to see people caring about each other.
For those who still may be hesitant about the vaccine, I want to emphasize that most people have experienced similar side effects as they would with the flu vaccine, including a sore arm, slight fever and some fatigue. However, there is one additional side effect that doesn’t get talked about as much, and that is the feeling of relief and hope. People are experiencing relief from the feeling of finally being safe from this awful virus. It is our wish to vaccinate everyone in our community, and for those who are still waiting, please hang in there. Our leaders are advocating for more vaccines from the state and hopeful that more supply will be available soon. Once we have the vaccines, I implore you, please come to see me at the vaccination clinic at LVH–Pocono when it’s your opportunity to get a COVID-19 vaccination. I want to help you protect yourself, your loved ones and the community from COVID-19.
Mary Grace Conklin, RN, MSN, CCRN, is a registered nurse at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono in East Stroudsburg.