Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 26, 2021

Undergrads in clinical work receive vaccines as Maryland expands vaccine eligibility

By AASHNA SUNDESHA | February 7, 2021

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As Maryland moves into phase 1C of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, over two million Marylanders are now eligible for the vaccine.

Phase 1C expands vaccine eligibility to people over 65 and more essential workers in lab services, agriculture and manufacturing. The state government website reports that the federal government is currently providing Maryland approximately 10,000 doses daily, far below the current demand.

Because of this transition, more Hopkins affiliates are getting vaccinated. In an email to University affiliates on Jan. 22, Provost Sunil Kumar and Interim Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration Mary Miller noted the ongoing efforts to support eligible Hopkins affiliates and Baltimore residents in receiving the vaccine.

Hopkins Hospital has established a partnership with the Baltimore City Public Schools to help vaccinate K-12 teachers and staff. The Hospital is also pursuing a program focused on senior citizens in nursing and assisted-living facilities in Baltimore.

“As of January 18, based upon Governor Hogan’s most recent announcement, [Johns Hopkins Medicine] has been authorized in its role as a health care provider to vaccinate eligible members of the public as well as eligible [Johns Hopkins Medicine] patients and JHU affiliates under Phase 1B of the state’s plan, and next week that authority expands to include Phase 1C,” Kumar and Miller wrote.

The Hospital has established vaccination clinics at five locations throughout the state so far and is using a randomized approach for the distribution of its limited vaccine supply within eligible groups at these sites.

In a subsequent email on Feb. 2, Kumar confirmed that Hopkins affiliates who are working in-person on campus in essential services — including custodial services or dining operations — alongside all instructors and staff teaching in-person classes are eligible to receive the vaccine.

Several Hopkins undergraduate students who are engaged in clinical work have already been vaccinated.

Junior Sydney White, whose research required her to be in close contact with patients, was one of the first students to receive the vaccine.

“Before the first dose, I was definitely a little nervous because they tell you to expect some side effects and soreness. However, when I actually got the vaccine I barely felt the needle and it was over in two seconds,” she said.

Immediately after receiving her vaccine, White was told to sit in the waiting room for 15 minutes in case of an allergic reaction, before returning home. She said that her arm was very sore a few hours later, but the soreness was gone by the next day. She had no other side effects and expects to receive her second dose the first week of February.

Currently, two vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are authorized for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Both require two doses in order to be fully effective.

Sophomore Snigdha Panda received both doses of her vaccine due to her role as certified nursing assistant at a hospital in Minnesota, where she is attending classes for the spring semester. She described the process as very smooth. 

“For a few days after the first dose, I did have some muscle soreness, but using the muscle in exercise and other things helped alleviate that,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “I felt normal again in the weeks following and leading up to my second dose. The next day I did have some body aches and a mild headache, but taking Tylenol relieved both issues within an hour.”

Panda explained that staff members were told to expect arm soreness with the first dose and more side effects, including body aches, chills, or fever, with the second dose. She added that all these reactions should be gone within 12 hours.

Senior Yurie Hong is a pre-med student studying Biomedical Engineering who works as a full-time medical assistant at the Georgetown University Hospital, which is offering the vaccinations to all associates. She received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of January.

“I am in the Ear, Nose and Throat department, and I interact with a lot of people everyday. I was very excited to get the vaccine so I am protected and my family is also protected,“ she said.

Hong explained that, even after receiving both doses, she continues to take precautions.

“I know it is possible for me to spread COVID, so it’s not changing the way I am living from before. I still wear my mask when I go anywhere and I don’t really go that many places,“ she said. “But I definitely feel safer or more comfortable working because I know that I’m protected.”

White was excited at the prospect of being able to see her grandparents since they are also vaccinated. She, however, still believes that current public health guidelines are necessary.

“Getting the vaccine hasn’t changed my perspective on social distancing or wearing a mask. When you get the vaccine they make sure to clarify that the science on how vaccinated people can transmit the virus is still unknown, so it is imperative that I, and everyone else who’s been vaccinated, still wear a mask and social distance,” she said. 

Ifeyinwa Egbunike, a recent alum, is a nursing student at Georgetown University and received her vaccine through the Georgetown Hospital. She encouraged people to receive the vaccine as soon as they are eligible, describing it as an easy and straightforward process. 

“All the information that you’re looking for in terms of what’s in it is out there for you to find on the CDC’s website or on the companies website. It’s not like the harmful thing that everyone thinks it is and it honestly has the same type of reactions as I have getting the flu shot regularly at Brody,” she said. 

Panda expressed hope that the continued rollout of the vaccine will end the pandemic soon and lift various restrictions.

“We still need to look out for each other and our communities, and the vaccine at this early stage doesn't change that,“ she wrote. “However, this is certainly the beginning of the end, and I encourage people to be hopeful and continue doing all the safe things they are. We're almost there.”

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