Summit County’s front-line workers share their experience with the COVID-19 vaccine at community town hall
Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is here, Summit County officials are working to raise more awareness about its effectiveness and safety.
At a county commissioner town hall on Friday, Jan. 22, three Summit County locals shared their experience receiving the vaccine. Aaron Parmet, infection prevention manager at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, also spoke at length about the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Parmet compared the body’s experience with a new virus, like the novel coronavirus, to learning how to ski without any lessons.
“Your body is pretty good at fighting off things in general but if it has a new disease it’s fighting, it’s kind of like trying to learn to ski by simply being taken to the top of the mountain and pushed down and saying, ’Figure it out on your way down, OK?’” he said. “That’s going to lead to a lot of falls, you may figure it out eventually. What’s better is if we have a solution where you didn’t have to figure it out while you’re already fighting infection. The vaccine is a tool for that.”
Parmet went on to explain how the vaccine can end the pandemic by helping the community achieve herd immunity.
“The only way to fix this is to make it so one person who is sick, on the average, will infect less than one other person,” he said. “That way if you had 10 sick people, they might cause five sick people and they might cause two sick people and they might cause one. That’s how infections burn themselves out naturally.”
Parmet himself has received both doses of the vaccine and experienced no side effects other than soreness on the site of injection. He said that severe side effects due to the vaccine are extremely rare.
“The No. 1 side effect is pain, swelling and redness where you got the shot,” he said. “My arm was pretty sore after the first one. It was really sore after the second one. I didn’t want to do push ups and maybe I slept on my other side but here I am. I’m fine.”
Officer Esteban Ortega also shared his experience with the vaccine at the town hall. As a police officer with the Breckenridge Police Department, Ortega was included in the first phase of vaccine distribution.
“After researching, reading and seeing all the articles that it’s basically safe, I decided to get it so I don’t get my family members sick,” Ortega said. “In my job, I get exposed a lot with a lot of people. So I wanted to protect my family and the people I interact with in public as well.”
As with Parmet, Ortega experienced soreness on his arm after receiving his dose. He also felt more tired and got more sleep the night after getting his shot.
“We need to stop this (pandemic) so we can get back to normal as soon as we can,” Ortega said.
Dr. Colby Jolley, a family medicine practitioner at Centura’s High Country Healthcare office in Silverthorne, experienced a few more side effects than Parmet or Ortega.
“I had a very typical response with the first vaccine. My left arm hurt bad enough that when I rolled over in bed it woke me up, but that only lasted 48 hours,” she said. “With the second dose, however, I had the arm pain, but I was really achy. It was almost as if I had done a really intense workout and I was just totally wiped.”
After 48 hours of receiving the second dose, Jolley said the aches subsided and the arm pain went away. Ultimately, she felt “totally fine.” She added that she’s been recommending her patients to take the vaccine once they’re able to.
“The vaccine to me, in my practice, is a game changer in the fight against the pandemic,” she said. “The medical science behind this vaccine, the funding that was made available to help this happen and even the coordination required to bring it safely to our community is really one of the most amazing accomplishments.”
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