Rocket alumni, parents among first to receive Covid-19 vaccine

As of Dec. 18, 2020 both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use in the United States. In a Jan. 7 updated article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities should be offered the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines.” This group is referred to as “phase 1a.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also outlined who is to receive the vaccine after phase 1a.

Phase 1b includes:

  • Additional frontline workers like firefighters, USPS workers, grocery store employees, teachers, and more. A more specific list can be found here.
  • Those over the age of 75 who are not in long-term care facilities, but could still be seriously affected if infected with the virus.

And phase 1c includes:

  • Those between the ages of 65-74, being that they are considered to be at high-risk
  • Anyone between the ages of 16-64 with underlying health conditions
  • Remaining frontline workers such as those who work in transportation, law, food service, etc.

Kim Zalar, mom of senior Paula Zalar, is a charge nurse at The Christ Hospital and was one of the first to receive the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 22. Zalar works directly with specialized heart patients who have Covid. “I was doubtful about getting the vaccine. I felt that there has not been enough research yet, but after talking with our infectious disease physician, I felt a little more comfortable. All of the nurses who I worked with that day were eager to get it [and] I also wanted to do my part for myself, my patients, and my community,” Zalar said. Following the vaccination, Zalar said that the only major side effect she experienced was a sore arm at the site of the vaccination that lasted for about 3 days after.

Zalar’s message to those who are doubtful to receive the vaccine, is this: “Trust in science and technology.”

McNicholas Class of 2015 alumna Molly Kidwell was also one of the first to receive the Moderna vaccine. Kidwell currently works as a scheduler for The Christ Hospital’s Rookwood primary care office, and also assists the neighboring lab draw site with scheduling and ordering labs. Kidwell received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Jan 4.

“I am a huge proponent of vaccines since I work in healthcare, so I did not have many reservations to receiving the vaccine. I work with several physicians who highly recommended the vaccine, and I also did my own independent research, so I felt confident in getting the vaccine. Since I am in contact with patients on a daily basis, I also wanted to get the vaccine to not only ensure my safety, but the safety of my loved ones as well,” Kidwell said. She said that roughly 5 hours after the initial vaccination, she experienced significant soreness in her arm.

“[I] was unable to lift my arm up more than a few inches, [but] the following day, which would have been 48 hours after receiving the vaccine, my arm was completely back to normal, and I had no other issues,” Kidwell said.

To those who are hesitant to receive the vaccine, Kidwell said: “Do your research (and no, social media does not necessarily count!) There are so many great resources out there for those who are concerned about the vaccine or want to know more about the safety and efficacy of it. The Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control have tons of useful information on their websites regarding the vaccine, and you can always call your doctor for guidance as well. I think too many people have utilized social media platforms as their sole method of ‘researching’ the vaccine, and it has led to misinformation and unwarranted anxiety. As with anything, there is always a risk associated, but you have to do your own research to weigh the potential pros and cons in order to determine whether you personally feel it is worth it. For me, the advantages far outweighed the potential disadvantages, so I felt confident in receiving the vaccine.”

Additionally, Shawna Phillips, mom of senior Ian Phillips, was able to receive her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 31. Phillips is a psychiatric nurse at the VA medical center, and works directly with veterans in their homes. “I was nervous and had my doubts, but I would never forgive myself if I transmitted the virus to the vets I work with….My feeling is, the vaccine has been tested and I am willing to take it to keep our vets and my family safe. Out of my whole family, my risk of exposure was the highest, and the population I work with is the most vulnerable,” Phillips said.

Just like Zalar and Kidwell, Phillips experienced a pretty sore arm after the initial vaccination. On the day of her vaccination, Phillips already wasn’t feeling 100% and landed in the hospital the next day with a kidney infection and a kidney stone, but there’s no telling if this was a direct reaction to the vaccine itself. Phillips is due to receive her second round of the vaccine in the coming weeks, and feels she’ll have a better grasp on the after effects then. Phillips added: “The vets I work with have multiple underlying issues such as COPD, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. If any of my vets tested positive for the virus, the probability of them dying from complications of Covid-19 is exceptionally high. My feeling is…they put their lives on the line for us, now it’s my turn to keep them safe.”

Christiane Hazzard, McNicholas Class of 2017, is a Respiratory Therapy Technician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Hazzard received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 18, and her second on Jan 8. “I [was] trained for the job in March 2020, so having worked throughout the entirety of the pandemic, I was really encouraged by the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in the form of a vaccine. I chose to do educated research into the vaccine clinical trials, and as a result was confident in getting the vaccine as soon as it was available to me. I knew getting the vaccine would be a step in the right direction for protecting my family, friends, and other patients.  I also trust the scientists who have spent countless months getting us to this point.”

Hazzard stated that her vaccination experience was “really exciting! …The process involved going to the appointment site, confirming I had no current COVID symptoms/exposures – also getting a temperature check, and updating pertinent health information forms. We were given thorough information about the vaccine and had the opportunity to ask any questions we had to an appropriately licensed healthcare professional.  From there, we got the vaccine – the injection itself was completely painless. We were then asked to stay for at least 15 minutes [to] be monitored for any adverse reactions.  After that, we scheduled for the next dose appointment and were free to leave.  I think I was smiling the rest of the day. I had a sore arm for the first dose – very comparable to a flu shot that night, mild fatigue, and then had a temperature of 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-2 hours that night, but woke up the next morning feeling totally normal.” After Hazzard’s second dose on Jan. 8, she experienced chills and a temperature of 100.8 degrees Fahrenheit approximately 12 hours after the initial injection. Though not the most fun, Hazzard said she felt immensely better after taking an Ibuprofen.

On the topic of vaccines, Science department chair Regina Goines said, “They are scientifically proven to be effective at not eliminating, but greatly limiting the risk of getting sick. It isn’t absolutely proven that there will be no side effects, but the risk of serious side-effects is far less than the risk of getting sick from the disease itself…. I’d rather get a little bit sick from the Covid vaccine than get sick and die from the disease.” Goines understands where those who might be skeptical about getting the vaccine are coming from, being that this is new territory, but said that “this is a case where we have to trust science.”


McNicholas Class of 2015 alumna, Molly Kidwell received the first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on Jan. 4 2021. “I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to receive the vaccine, and am very hopeful for the future!” Kidwell said.

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