The first round of Moderna vaccines to immunize the population against COVID-19 are being administered to first responders in Liberty County. On New Year’s Day, Liberty Fire Chief Brian Hurst, Mary Poston, physician’s assistant with Firm Foundations Clinic, and Holly Benson, nurse practitioner with Liberty Medical-Surgical Clinic, and other first responders in Liberty lined up at the Brookshire Bros. pharmacy to receive the vaccinations.
Each person received the first of two rounds required for the Moderna vaccine. They will have to return in 28 days to receive the second dose of the vaccine in order to achieve maximum immunity.
“It’s only 50 percent effective after the first shot,” explained Chief Hurst. “It’s supposed to be 95 percent effective after the second shot.”
Hurst said he wants the general public to see that there is no reason to fear the vaccine.
“It’s safe and you shouldn’t be afraid to take it. It doesn’t hurt. It’s an easy shot to take and hopefully everyone will be willing to take it in order to be safe,” he said.
Pharmacist Gradee Davis advised that those taking the vaccine will likely feel some soreness at the injection site, fever and body aches, which are minor compared to the actual illness.
“The vaccine cannot give you the infection at all. These symptoms are just the body’s response to the virus and are a sign that the immune system is eliciting a response to it,” Davis said.
However, a person who was previously exposed to the illness prior to receiving the vaccine may still develop COVID-19.
The vaccines are being administered at no cost. While there is no set timeline for when the vaccines will be available to the general public, as it is being rolled out in phases, Davis estimates the timeline will be spring to summer 2021.
Hurst has faith that the vaccines could lead to the end of the pandemic, which has been attributed to 1.8 million deaths worldwide and has caused a crippling effect on national and world economies.
“I have never really done anything for humanity. I think this is my chance to do my little part. I wasn’t around when vaccines eradicated polio or tuberculosis. This is my chance to do my part now,” he said.
Poston and Benson both say their clinics have seen a big uptick recently in the number of COVID-19 cases.
“The last two weeks has been insane. I am not doing this because I feel scared as a clinician. I feel very safe at the clinic. I am in complete control of my environment with my N-95 mask and face shield,” Poston said. “I am doing this to feel safe as a citizen. I do not feel safe here in the grocery store. I do not feel safe going to see my friends or going to church, even though there are only a few of us at my church. I want life to go back to normal. I want to have coffee with my friends again. I want to go to a concert or go see a movie.”
Benson, who worked in New York last year when the COVID-19 crisis began, says she has seen what the virus can do and feels encouraged that the vaccine is now giving people hope of a normal life in the future.
“I never thought it would be possible to be able to achieve herd immunity so quickly, but we could turn the tide and get back to normal. I want people to know that we have confidence in the science and take the shot. Let’s do this,” she said.