Maryland is currently in Phase 1C of the vaccine distribution, which allows adults 65 and older, hospital staff, law enforcement, teachers and many other essential workers to obtain their vaccine. (Graphic by Caleb Collins)
Maryland is currently in Phase 1C of the vaccine distribution, which allows adults 65 and older, hospital staff, law enforcement, teachers and many other essential workers to obtain their vaccine.

Graphic by Caleb Collins

The light at the end of the tunnel nears as teachers receive vaccines

March 16, 2021

As COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed across Montgomery Country, many people have jumped at the opportunity to receive their vaccines. Maryland is currently in phase 1C of the vaccine rollout, allowing for adults aged 65 and older and essential workers in fields such as agriculture and lab services to be eligible for vaccinations. More than 1 million vaccines have been administered to Marylanders, including a handful of Richard Montgomery teachers and students’ parents.  

Due to the high demand exceeding the limited supply of vaccines, many people have found it incredibly hard to get one. English teacher Greg Rodgers described the process saying, “Signing up was a nightmare. It’s like a free for all. I tried for almost a week but it would be full by the time you’re getting your information filled in on the website.”

The Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines require two doses received around four weeks apart. Many who qualify in groups 1B and 1C have had frustrating experiences trying to schedule their first dose because signing up for an appointment online seems impossible, and even when vaccination appointments have been set, there is always a chance that they will get canceled due to a supply shortage. 

English teacher Eva Sullivan spent weeks trying to schedule a vaccine but was met with a lot of disappointment. “I would go on websites and sign up for appointments, only to have them canceled. Teachers were turned away. I signed up for an appointment through Adventist [HealthCare] up in Gaithersburg, and I was texting some friends who had just been there, but they told me they’re turning teachers away and it’s only for people aged 75 and up,” Ms. Sullivan said when describing one of her failed attempts to schedule her first dose. Some feel that Maryland’s rollout system is chaotic and aggravating because while vaccines are now open to those in group 1C, people in 1B are still struggling to be vaccinated. Ms. Sullivan eventually succeeded in getting the Pfizer vaccine at the Maryland mass vaccination site at Six Flags and stated, “When I got that vaccine in my arm, I cried with relief.”

When I got that vaccine in my arm, I cried with relief.”

— Ms. Sullivan

After a year in quarantine, the vaccines are a sign of hope that we are turning the corner to normalcy. English teacher Grant Goldstein, who has already received his second dose, noticed the emotional reaction that these vaccines evoked in many patients and the positive energy in the vaccination facilities. “What struck me about the process is how really, really happy everybody was. People who were working there were really excited and trying to keep people very positive. There was almost this sense of celebration that this part of the process was finally happening for so many people,” he said.

The vaccines are not only a turning point in the lives of those who receive them but a joyous moment for their loved ones as well. Junior Jupleen Kaur has parents who are essential workers and work in a medical practice. Kaur’s parents were able to get fully vaccinated, which allows her to worry less about her parents’ safety regarding contracting the virus in their workplace, seeing that the Pfizer vaccine is 95 percent effective. “It’s important to me because for my dad, he sees patients every day, and so now knowing that my dad is more safe seeing those patients after being vaccinated, it feels good,” Kaur said.

 Despite the sense of relief most feel after being vaccinated, the side effects of the shot may make it a less than pleasant experience. Some common side effects after being vaccinated include fatigue, chills/fever, headache and soreness which can last a day or two. However, this does not mean a person will experience all, or any, of the side effects, as it varies from individual to individual. “I know some people who got the vaccine and had really bad stomach issues, nausea, vomiting, fevers, feeling cold chills, but then getting sweaty, in addition to a sore arm. So I was prepared for possibly having that kind of an effect. But aside from a sore arm, that was it. I didn’t have any fatigue and I didn’t really feel bad at all,” English teacher Leckie Susan stated when she described the side effects she experienced. 

While there are some who are ambivalent about the vaccine, there is no denying that COVID-19 vaccines are essential to bringing the coronavirus pandemic to an end. This is not to say that the pandemic will be over tomorrow just because people are being vaccinated, but it is an important part of getting there. As Ms. Leckie stated, “it’s not like you’re gonna get a shot and everything’s gonna be over. It’s just the beginning of a new step in the journey.”

These vaccines are bringing the light at the end of the tunnel closer and closer, leaving many of us relating to Ms. Sullivan’s sentiment: “I feel hopeful now that things can start easing their way back to normal, whatever that new normal is going to look like.”

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