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'Hope and relief:' Central Coast healthcare workers talk about getting the vaccine

Healthcare workers across the Central Coast have stepped up and cared for COVID-19 patients under diffi­cult circum­stances. Those we spoke to say with a vaccine now here, hope is on the horizon.

Twin Cities Community Hospital ER nurse Sam Sams said it’s been physically and mentally exhausting to be working in healthcare as the pandemic continues.

“It’s very disheartening when you have members of the public telling you this is all a hoax, when just my shift previously I had to tell someone that their mother has died because of COVID," said Sams.

Sams is one of the frontline workers to receive the Pfizer vaccine. 

“It was a literal shot of hope," Sams said. " To know a vaccine is here and to be able to receive one has just been so reinvigorating.”

Dr. Scott Roberston with Dignity Health Central Coast has also gotten the vaccine. He hopes once it becomes available for the general public, that people trust in the science.

“When looking at this data, both at the national [level] and with local infectious disease and epidemiological experts, it's quite clear based upon the studies that this vaccine is very effective at protecting individuals against COVID-19,” Robertson said.

Robertson said for things to return to normal pre-pandemic days, a vast majority of people will need to get vaccinated. 

“We are going to have to get 50-60 percent of the general population vaccinated and having measurable immunity to COVID-19 before we really start to see this virus die out in communities," Robertson said. "When that happens, that’s when it would be safe to take off our masks in our day-to-day lives.”

As for side effects, Dr. Roberston said it's similar to getting a flu vaccine.

“There can be local discomfort through the injection, some individuals may get some bruising at the injection site," Robertson said. "For other individuals, they may experience a little bit of malaise and maybe not feeling like themselves for a day or two.”

While details are still being worked out, the vaccine should be available to healthy people who are not essential workers or in other high risk groups possibly as early as late spring 2021.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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