My COVID-19 experience

My clinic received their first allotment of COVID-19 vaccine Monday morning of this week. Hooray! We started vaccinating our clinic staff the very next day. I received my first dose of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this week, and yesterday my pharmacy student Albert and I administered vaccine to my co-workers as well as other front-line health care providers in my community, including 2 dentists, 12 dental assistants, plus physical and occupational therapists. 
I’ve helped set up and run influenza vaccination clinics every fall for the past 10 years. Organizing COVID-19 immunizations is DEFINTELY more difficult. 
The biggest difference is the vaccine itself, which is only available as a multiple dose vial. Influenza vaccine also used to be available only in multiple dose vials, each containing 10 doses. It actually takes longer to draw up each dose from the vial than it does to administer it. We could then put the remaining unused vaccine vial back in the refrigerator until the next time someone needed a flu shot. 
For the past 5 years, single-doses of influenza vaccine without preservatives have been available, each one premeasured in a ready to use syringe, saving a great deal of time and trouble. 
During our flu shot clinic, we checked the age of our client, selected either the regular or the over-65 years influenza formulation, removed the dose of vaccine already filled and ready in the refrigerator, attached the appropriate needle, then gently inverted it several times to make sure it was well mixed before administering it. 
Giving COVID-19 immunizations is more complicated, because not only must each dose be drawn up individually out of the multiple dose vial, there is a time limit to using that dose. Once you take out the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine out of its vial, if it isn’t given to someone within 6 HOURS, it must be discarded. Yikes!
Washington State is delivering two COVID-19 vaccines to various sites around the state, one developed by Pfizer-BioN Tech, and the other developed by Moderna. They are basically very similar in how they work and how effective they are. 
Here are 6 Tips on COVID Vaccines:
1.COVID vaccines are amazingly effective.
Influenza vaccine effectiveness varies from 40% to about 60% in most adults. The older you are the less the vaccine protects you. To overcome this, influenza vaccine formulas are available for adults older than 65 years old. 
Pfizer’s vaccine provides about 50% protection after the first dose, starting about 2 weeks after it is given, with 95% protection from COVID within 1 week of receiving a second dose, due 3 weeks later. 
The Moderna vaccine gives around 80% protection within 2 weeks after the first dose, and 94% effectiveness 2 weeks after the second dose, given 4 weeks later. 
2 .Even if you get COVID despite being vaccinated, it will most likely be mild.
The 5% of people who got COVID-19 despite being immunized only had mild symptoms, not a serious infection requiring hospitalization. 
3. Keep wearing your mask.
Since the vaccine study participants were tested for COVID only if symptomatic, we don’t know whether either vaccine can prevent an asymptomatic COVID infection.
4. Serious allergic reactions are rare.
After giving the vaccine, you get a card with the vaccine information on it, PLUS a sticky note with the exact time the vaccine was administered. You are asked to stay under observation for 15 minutes, in case of an allergic reaction. 
One dental hygienist had a severe allergy to shellfish and bee stings that required her to carry an Epi-Pen. She stayed for 30 minutes afterward, and had no problems.
5. Use the V-safe smartphone app.
Developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), V-safe prompts you to report how you are feeling after your COVID-19 vaccine. It checks in with you every day for a week directly to the CDC, and if you self-report a serious side effect, someone from the CDC will contact you. It texts me a reminder each day for the first week, asking me how I am doing and will remind me when I am due for my final vaccine dose.
6. Be on time for your vaccine appointment.
Once a vial of COVID-19 vaccine is opened, each dose MUST be administered within 6 hours to avoid having to be discarded. There are 5 doses per vial for Pfizer vaccine and 10 doses per vial for Moderna vaccine. If you don’t show up on time, the dose that is waiting for you can’t be used past its 6-hour time limit.
Dr. Louise Achey, Doctor of Pharmacy, is a 40-year veteran of pharmacology and author of Why Dogs Can’t Eat Chocolate: How Medicines Work and How YOU Can Take Them Safely. Check out her NEW website for daily tips on how to take your medicine safely. 2021 Louise Achey

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