Submitted by SRPMIC COVID-19
The coronavirus changed our lives in 2020, creating the urgent need for a vaccine to contain the highly infectious disease. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the first vaccine approved by the FDA, on December 11, set in motion the planned phased process to receive the initial COVID-19 vaccine.
On December 18, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community frontline healthcare workers and Salt River Fire Department staff began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at one of the five regional distribution sites through a partnership with Maricopa County, Honor Health, and the Mayo Clinic. These distribution sites are only for Phase 1a workers as part of the CDC and State phased approach in the distribution of the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Initially, many individuals were hesitant about a COVID-19 vaccine, including SRPMIC Fire Captain Genaro Rocha. Rocha was undecided when information came out about the possible COVID-19 vaccine, so he began educating himself by looking at the data about the vaccine and the approval process the vaccine went through. He decided to go ahead and get the vaccine.
“I felt privileged to take the vaccine because of my role in the Community as a first responder,” said Rocha. He indicated that he experienced some side effects the next day after the vaccination, but he has felt good since.
Priscilla Wilson, who works with the SRPMIC Health and Human Services Department, decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine because of her belief that vaccines have been proven to be the most effective way to decrease symptoms for a virus like COVID-19 and may prevent someone from getting the virus in the first place.
“Initially, I was worried about the symptoms because of what I was hearing from the media,” said Wilson, “but as a provider I did my own research and spoke with my colleagues, which helped with any fears.” Her only reaction was a sore arm the following morning.
Honor Health provided the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. The process for receiving the vaccine was easy; Honor Health set up a drive-up system so getting the vaccine only took a couple of minutes. After receiving the vaccine, people went to a 15-minute monitoring location to see if anyone developed any serious side effects. The online process was as quick as the shot itself.
“I believe that vaccines have proven to be most effective way of decreasing symptoms for a virus like COVID-19 and may prevent actually getting the virus,” said Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Makil. “As with any vaccine, there are some worries about possible side effects. As a first responder I read the information that was out there and listened to the doctors and made my choice to get it”
Chief Makil’s only symptom was a sore arm at the injection site. After 24 hours he experienced no additional after effects.
Healthcare personnel and emergency response teams are a top priority for receiving the COVID-19 vaccination because of their exposure to the virus and their critical role of keeping emergency services, health clinics and other critical health services functioning. Soon the vaccination will be available to other groups, such as elders, adults with health conditions and the general public. Information on Community COVID-19 vaccines will be disseminated as it becomes available.