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Voices of the Vaccinated

We asked members of the UCR SOM community to share their thoughts, concerns, and experiences after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
By Ross French |

Frontline healthcare providers, including clinicians, staff, residents and medical students from the UCR School of Medicine and UCR Health were among the first people to receive vaccinations for COVID-19.

We asked UCR SOM and UCR Health employees who had received the vaccine to share their thoughts and experiences both before and after getting the vaccine. The opinions stated below are those of the individual.

For more information about the COVID-19, the vaccine, its development and distribution, please visit our UCR Health FAQ.

 


Did you have any reservations or concerns about taking the vaccine? If so, what were they? If not, why not?

Anousheh Ashouri

"Initially I did, but I did multiple Zoom and Webex calls with Centers for Disease Control right before I got the vaccine and they went through the mechanism of action of the vaccine. Based on scientific data I decided to get the vaccine."

- Anousheh Ashouri, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"No. Trust in scientific study results."

- Rajagopal Krishnan, M.D., Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"Yes, its a new vaccine and I was concerned about the efficacy and how long it would be effective."

- Alex White, Executive Assistant, UCR Health

"Initially, because we don't know the risks or long term side effects, but later I was OK with taking vaccination because of overwhelming spread of COVID in December."

- Samia Faiz, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"I was mostly worried about having a bad reaction to the vaccine as it was something new."

- Magdalena Matias, Medical Assistant

"I got the Pfizer vaccine in September/October, 2020 as a research study subject. I knew that I got it when the study allowed unblinding after the FDA Emergency Use Authorization last December. My wife, daughter and I participated in the study based on the early safety data, innovative science, and the hope that it will work for us and others."

- Maher Roman, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

Remus Popa

"I had questions regarding this vaccine because it was a somewhat new technology. Although the same technology was used for other vaccines (Zika virus for example), this was going to be the first (followed shortly by the Moderna vaccine) one to use at such a large scale. My main concern were not the immediate reactions (fever, chills etc.) which are inherent to any vaccine, but the risk for long term side effects."

"I consulted with vaccine and immunology experts from UCSD where I worked before coming to UCR. Understanding the way this vaccine works reassured me."

"For example understanding that the mRNA will "live" in my body for a very short time (hours to days), that it will not enter the nucleus of my cells and hence cannot influence my DNA, was reassuring."

- Remus Popa, M.D., Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"I was really happy as the last time I got COVID-19, I was asymptomatic and was interacting with my family members. I was really worried about my parents, but they tested negative. My siblings tested negative as well. I don't ever want to put my family in danger again."

- Antonio Garcia, M.D., Resident Physician, Family Medicine

 


Can you describe how you felt emotionally when you got the shot(s)?

 

"I felt relieved, like a big responsibility was lifted from my shoulders."

- Anousheh Ashouri, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

Alex White

"I felt guilty. I qualified to get the vaccine due to working in our COVID testing site and I obviously jumped at the chance but thought about those who will be waiting months to receive it. I also felt thankful that science has been able to provide a vaccine that can help keep people safe."

- Alex White, Executive Assistant, UCR Health

"Relieved."

- Rajagopal Krishnan, M.D., Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"I felt relieved after taking the second dose of vaccination."

- Samia Faiz, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"I felt a little worried to how my body was going to react to something new."

- Magdalena Matias, Medical Assistant

"I felt liberated to a great degree when I found that indeed I got it."

- Maher Roman, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"I was happy that I can get more protection against COVID."

- Remus Popa, M.D., Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

Antonio Garcia

"I did not have any concerns about the vaccine. At the time, I was about to start my ICU rotation, and so I really wanted to get the vaccine. I had gotten COVID-19 once already, and there were some co-workers of mine who had gotten COVID-19 a second time, and so I really wanted the vaccine. I also still live at home with my parents and my siblings and so I wanted to be as careful as possible."

- Antonio Garcia, M.D., Resident Physician, Family Medicine

 


How did you feel physically after you got the shot(s)? How did it compare to other vaccinations you have received, e.g. flu or shingles?

 

Dr. Gregory Shimizu

"After the first vaccine I had a sore shoulder for the next 24 hours, nothing that icing couldn't take care of. After the second one, I had the sore shoulder and some fatigue and achiness the next day. But I was out fishing on the ocean less than 48 hours later with no symptoms."

- Greg Shimizu, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"After the first dose i had arm pain and body aches for one day which resolved quickly. After the second shot i had no symptoms."

- Anousheh Ashouri, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

Better than the flu shot. No fever or myalgia. I had soreness at the injection site for two days.

- Rajagopal Krishnan, M.D., Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"I felt normal other than a sore arm for about 36 hours. I felt very similar to when I received the flu shot."

- Alex White, Executive Assistant, UCR Health

"I felt sicker as compared to other vaccines with muscle pain, low grade fever, chills, headache but resolved after 24 hours, I did take 1g of Tylenol."

- Cindy X. Cai, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

Samia Faiz M.D.

"I had arm soreness, fatigue, and body aches after first dose of vaccine. I was sick with the second dose of vaccine with low grade fever, body aches, cough, sore throat, headache, and fatigue which is much more than reaction from the flu vaccine."

- Samia Faiz, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"I felt just fine, some soreness slightly more than what it feels like after the flu vaccine, tired, no symptoms of feeling sick."

- Magdalena Matias, Medical Assistant

After the first shot, just mild arm pain. After the second shot, I had one night of mild fever, chills and few days of arm pain.

- Maher Roman, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"My reaction to the COVID vaccine was pretty similar with the one I had from the shingles vaccine. Fever, chills, headaches started approximately 24 hours after my second shot and lasted for approximately 12-18 hours. By the following day I was back to normal. I scheduled my dose before day off on purpose and I advise that."

- Remus Popa, M.D., Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"First shot: Only a sore arm, similar to flu vaccine. Second shot: I felt hot after about 10 hours, resolved at about 20 hours after the shot. Felt fatigue after around 11 hours, resolved after around 20 hours. Had a headache at around 20 hours, although could have been from lack of sleep as my siblings were being really loud and I didn't get much sleep that night. Headache resolved the following day. Sore arm resolved at around 26 hours. It has now been around 4 days since I got the second shot, and I feel good."

- Antonio Garcia, M.D., Resident Physician, Family Medicine


There are some people who are reluctant to get the vaccine for a variety of reasons. What would you like to say to them?

"This vaccine is very safe - the mechanism of action is very safe. This type of vaccine study has been done for many years and even though they did go through and approved the vaccine quickly i feel very safe getting it due to amount of research that has been done on this type of vaccine for 20 plus years. I would definitely recommend getting the vaccine."

- Anousheh Ashouri, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"I get it. New vaccines are scary especially when we are used to vaccines taking years to get approved and offered to the public. But when  you think about how many hours have been dedicated to developing this vaccine since March, it puts things into perspective. Scientists around the world have been working 24/7 to make this happen. The risks of getting the vaccine were much better than the risks associated with getting COVID-19."

- Alex White, Executive Assistant, UCR Health

Dr. Rajagopal Krishnan

"This is the best way you can protect yourself and your loved ones. You cannot get the COVID infection from the vaccine."

- Rajagopal Krishnan, M.D., Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"I recommend vaccine to halt the pandemic. The pros definitely out weight the cons. Based on the prior experience of mRNA as a therapeutic strategy in cancer patient and available data from the clinical trial, mRNA vaccine is safe and highly efficient with totally manageable adverse events. Though there are some severe adverse events and even death reported after vaccination, it remains very rare and whether this is related to vaccine remains undefined. Regardless, the long term effect will be under close monitor by the general public, medical society, FDA and manufacturers."

- Cindy X. Cai, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"Vaccines are for the best and greater good. We need to have herd immunity sooner to protect everyone."

- Samia Faiz, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"Take it. Medicine has come so far and we are more knowledgeable and have more resources to make the vaccine possible in a short time. Getting the vaccine will help us get trough this pandemic and return to some extent of normality."

- Magdalena Matias, Medical Assistant

Maher Roman

Both Pfizer and Modena vaccines have been proven safe and effective and were very well tolerated in the studies that included approximately 74,000 individuals. I truly believe that these vaccines are much safer than the risk of getting Covid-19. They are the safe way to get us back to normal life rather than risking our lives and well-being.

- Maher Roman, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"I understand people are in doubt because this vaccine was developed so "fast". We got here after tens of years of research to develop mRNA vaccines and we were lucky that this technique was ready for prime time now.

Like every decision we make for prevention or treatment, we evaluate risk and benefit. My risk to die from COVID is approximately two percent, maybe higher because I am more exposed at the hospital. The risk for long term effects from COVID is even higher and we see this with our patients every day. My assessment was that there is more benefit for me to take the vaccine that not."

- Remus Popa, M.D., Clinical Professor, Health Sciences


Anything you would like to add?

"Yesterday, I was back to work (my week starts on a Thursday in the hospital). Instead of putting on my N95 and face shield to see patients, I felt like putting on a cape! Not a superhero but felt (95%) invincible (after 10 months of feeling so vulnerable). Also, a bigger relief for the safety of my family."

- Greg Shimizu, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"Think of others always. Receiving or declining the vaccine may not make a huge difference in your life but it could save someone else."

- Alex White, Executive Assistant, UCR Health

"Please contact your PCP and get the vaccine promptly! History of severe allergy is probably the only contraindication for the vaccine."

- Cindy X. Cai, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor, Health Sciences

"Stay safe, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently. Not every patient in the ICU is old with multiple health conditions. There have been several young and previously healthy middle-aged patients who got COVID-19, who I thought would be okay, but they did not leave the ICU alive."

- Antonio Garcia, M.D., Resident Physician, Family Medicine