First Kentuckians to get Covid-19 vaccine: no real side effects

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – A sore arm – that’s about the extent of the side effects after getting the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the first group in Kentucky to receive it.

The five health care workers with the University of Louisville Hospital, Dr. Jason Smith, Dr. Valerie Briones-Pryor, Dr. Mohamed Saad, and nurses LaShawn Scott and Beth Sum, answered reporters’ questions at virtual press conference on Monday, one week after making history by being the first in the state to get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

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Sum says it was important to let people know there were no side effects for her and maybe, in hearing that, it would ease people’s minds about getting the vaccine.

When asked if getting the vaccine relieved some of the tension they have experienced for months, being on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic, Smith says, while everyone is happy and hopeful about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, they know there’s still a long way to go.

“I think I can speak for everyone when we say it feels like a step forward for the first time in a long time in dealing with Covid,” says Smith, UofL Health chief medical officer, who became the first person in Kentucky to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. “Are we to the point where we are less stressed about this? No. I’ll be honest, it’s just not widespread enough yet that we can feel less stressed about this or less worried about our friends and our families.”

Briones-Pryor also says it’s changed little for her. She is still treating Covid-19 patients wearing PPE and recently had to deal with the loss of her 29th patient due to the virus. She says, unfortunately, three more of her Covid-19 patients are not expected to make it.

“Even though we’ve been vaccinated and my team’s been vaccinated, the number of patients still hasn’t changed and again, it’s because we just started,” says Briones-Pryor. “So, even though some of our stress is relieved in the sense of now we’re more hopeful, our job is still not done.”

Smith says he expected 550 hospital workers to be vaccinated Monday. The hospital was expecting a second shipment of 975 additional doses that afternoon.

Smith is encouraging everyone to be patient and to continue following the Covid-19 guidelines until more people are vaccinated.

‘We’re coming to the finish line, don’t stop running now.”