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  • Kayla Parks

Wondering About the Vaccine? Here's Everything You Need to Know

On January 21, 2020, the United States announced its first case of COVID-19. One year, 26,000,000 cases, and 437,000 deaths later in America alone - the COVID vaccine is finished and being administered to front line workers and the high-risk community. What does this mean for the general public? When can we expect the vaccine to be readily available?

Depending on what side of the river you live on - there are slightly different plans for the vaccination. For Missouri residents, there are three phases. Phase 1A covers long-term care facility residents and staff, healthcare workers who are patient facing, and EMS/EMT/Paramedics. Phase 1B covers first responders and emergency, high-risk individuals, and critical infrastructure. Phase 2 covers accelerating economic recovery, disproportionately affected populations, and the homeless. Finally, Phase 3 will cover all Missouri residents.

For Illinois residents, there are two phases. Phase 1a involves healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents. Phase 1b involves vaccinating frontline essential workers including first responders, shelters, adult care, inmates, and persons aged 65 and older. Phase 1c will vaccinate other essential workers and people with high-risk conditions between the ages of 16-64. Finally, phase 2 will vaccinate any Illinois resident (16+) who wishes to be vaccinated.

For both Missouri and Illinois residents, people eligible for the vaccine can make an appointment with participating pharmacies at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Kroger, etc.

Trevor Fornwalt, a Mount Vernon, IL resident, just recently received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. Trevor works for USPS, which allowed him to get vaccinated before Phase 2.

“Even if I didn’t work with USPS, I would’ve wanted to get the vaccine as soon as it was available,” Trevor added, “When I showed up to my appointment, I was the youngest person there. I was pleasantly surprised though, the whole process was so organized. My appointment was at 8:15 a.m., I showed up at 8:00 a.m., and I was done by 8:16 a.m. If I had to guess - I’d say Illinois is in Phase 1b [first responders, adult care, persons aged 65 and older, etc.].”

Trevor isn’t oblivious to the controversy surrounding the vaccine in the United States. “I am just sad that we as a nation have concluded that we can’t trust science with no real proof. I see people more and more post on social media baseless claims about how ‘bad’ the vaccine is. I think we can sometimes dismiss the idea that our words do have power. Our words are powerful things and we must recognize that. We have the power to change the world or destroy it with our words and it’s our responsibility to be informed and educated.”

Trevor will be going back in February to receive his second dose of the vaccine. On the other side of the river, Jenni Bruns, a Missouri resident, has received both doses of the vaccine. Jenni works as a nurse at Saint Louis University Hospital and took the vaccine once it became available. She shared a few of the side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, similar to the side effects of the flu vaccine.

“The first shot just gave me a tiny knot and soreness at the injection site, as well as some muscle soreness in my neck and shoulder on that side,” Jenni added, “The second vaccine caused more swelling - about 2.5 inches in diameter. I had a low fever on day two for about 8 hours and felt exhausted for a few days after - nothing crazy though.”

Jenni weighed her opinion on how the rollout of vaccinations for the general public. One thing she has noticed is that the rollout for the vaccinations has been a lot slower than expected. “I think it is bringing to light even more evidence of racial and socioeconomic inequity, but getting as many as possible vaccinated will help us get back to ‘normal’,” Jenni added, “It will help decrease our feelings of isolation and overall have a positive effect on our mental health.” The world everyone once knew is gone, but with continued use of masks, safe social distancing, and herd immunity from the vaccinated people - the world we knew is within reach.

Although vaccines aren’t widely available yet for Illinois and Missouri residents, you can take a closer look at the phases and who is included to see if you qualify to be vaccinated.

If you are a Missouri resident, click here:

If you are an Illinois resident, click here:


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