By Sahar Chmais
HAYS COUNTY – Mary Stone, 56-year-old retired nurse and therapist, felt she needed to do anything in her capability to help humanity come closer to a solution for COVID-19. She worked so many years watching people gasping for air in ICUs, and COVID-19 was only adding to that problem. So Stone did what she thought was best – she volunteered at the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial.
“I did it because I worked in ICU and I know what people go through,” Stone told the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch. “Some people get no symptoms from COVID, but some get deathly ill. I wanted to do all I could to prevent that.”
With vaccines rolling around the corner, just weeks away from civilian usage, people are questioning if they will get the vaccine and what reactions they will have. Stone decided to open up about her experience so others can be informed on what to expect.
To date, Stone has not been told if she took a placebo or if she took the real thing, but she has drawn some conclusions based on how she felt after taking the shots.
“I didn’t know which group I was in,” Stone recalled about her experience. “I did the first shot and my arm was sore, and the second one, within hours I was having (COVID) symptoms. They told me 80% of people were having these symptoms.”
After taking the second shot, Stone had a fever for the first 24 hours, she felt fatigue and some body aches for a couple of days. To Stone, it felt like a short version of the flu. Even with feeling some symptoms, Stone said she would do the vaccine again if she had to; better to feel a little ill than to be on a ventilator in the ICU, she explained.
Stone also advised that if a person takes the vaccine, maybe it is best to do so on a Friday so they have a few days of rest. This is something that soon many will begin considering because the vaccine will make its way into Texas in a week or so.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), will be shipped out as early as next week. The Moderna vaccine is expected to be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration’s Advisory Committee on Dec. 17 and will be sent to enrolled providers once it is approved.
Due to limited number of vaccines available, DSHS’s Expert Vaccination Allocation Panel (EVAP) makes decisions on which groups get vaccines when they are distributed, based on higher vulnerabilities.
In the first week of distribution, Texas will receive around 225,000 doses to send to 109 hospitals in 34 counties. EVAP has followed these guidelines as to whom gets vaccines first:
• Health care workers, working directly with patients who are positive or at high risk for COVID-19. These include physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and support staff, plus clinical staff working in laboratories, pharmacies, rehabilitation services and more.
• Residents of long-term care facilities.
• Long-term care staff working directly with vulnerable residents.
• EMS providers who engage in emergency services such as pre-hospital care and transport.
• Home healthcare workers who work with high-risk patients
“It may be several months before enough vaccine is produced and distributed before reaching the general public through individual physicians, pharmacies and other providers,” wrote Douglas Loveday, DSHS press officer. “In the meantime, DSHS urges everyone to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing while around others outside of their households.”
So far, there are more than 4,000 providers enrolled, waiting to receive a batch of the vaccine. Seton Medical Center Hays, in Kyle, is the only provider on that list located in Hays County.
According to DSHS, once the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issue authorization and recommendations on the vaccine, it will ship directly to vaccine providers from Pfizer and McKesson, Moderna’s distribution contractor.
The DSHS states that it will be several months for enough vaccines to be produced and distributed before becoming available to the general public, or before reaching physicians, pharmacies and other providers.