On Tuesday, Dec. 22, the first round of staff members at the St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee received their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s just exciting because it feels like the end is close and it's empowering to know that this one thing we are getting injected with has the ability to get life back to normal,” said Erica Denzer, Patient Care Manager of Surgical Services.
Denzer said things won’t go back to normal right away. Staff will still use the same personal protective equipment and test all patients for COVID-19 before surgery.
However, when the public becomes more widely vaccinated, she said she is most looking forward to the positive changes patients will start to see.
“The biggest thing is our patients have no visitors with them now. That’s really hard and I can only imagine what it would be like if I was having a surgery and didn’t have a loved one with me. We do discharge instructions over the phone. It’s so impersonal. It will be a big difference to get our patients' families back,” she said.
While it is unclear exactly when that will be, Denzer is excited that the first steps have already been taken with some staff members receiving the vaccine.
Denzer said the process was similar to getting a flu shot, with one addition. Those who get the vaccine must carry around a white card with information about their dosage, so medical staff can ensure they receive the correct second dose two weeks after the initial shot.
When Denzer got the first dose of the vaccine, she said her arm was sore but that she didn’t experience any other symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some patients may experience other side effects, like chills, fatigue, muscle pain, or fever. Mayo Clinic said these are short term mild or moderate side effects that will resolve without injury.
For those who are on the fence about whether or not they want to receive the vaccine, Denzer said she doesn’t want to add any pressure but does want to leave everyone with this message.
“You don’t have to do it for you, but do it for the others around you who are struggling. This could save them,” she said.