"It just takes a huge weight off of our shoulders": Local nurse prepares for second dose of COVID vaccine

Though it might feel like just yesterday that the COVID vaccine was officially rolled out, we are already getting to see some people’s vaccination journey unfold, as many of our local healthcare workers are close now to getting the second dose-which will give them 95% immunity to the virus.

"It’s been almost two weeks since Harborview nurse Jessica Lowery got the COVID vaccine. "I just felt the poke of the needle, I didn't feel the medication, which sometimes with the flu shot or tetanus shot you really feel it."

Later on her arm started to feel sore, as if she’d had a big workout. And the next day she felt some side effects. "One of my coworkers described it as having a bad night’s sleep like the next day you feel kind of groggy maybe for a few days."

The grogginess soon worn off and the only thing Lowery felt then was a sweet sigh of relief. She’s spent over 10 months managing several COVID testing sites-where she and her staff are put at high risk. Knowing they’re building up immunity is a game changer. "It's huge because we worry so much  about wearing the proper PPE and that we take it off properly so we don't accidentally infect ourselves and just interacting with patients and what not."

And here’s a realization that she says is beyond exciting: she’s a week away from dose #2, putting her one month away from having almost full immunity. "It just takes a huge weight off of our shoulders, less anxiety."

Another big perk: it gives her hope. "Having it is so nice because you get to think about okay so someday we will be able to go to the grocery store without masks."

She says she can’t wait until the day her testing sites open up a new function: vaccinating people. "It’s always nice when the recipient is actually excited about what they're getting."

She’s particularly looking forward to helping vulnerable populations, like those in homeless shelters protect themselves. It’s an amazing feeling: a sense of protection and she and her coworkers can’t wait to share it. 

While Lowery of course is excited for the day her clinics will start vaccinating the public, she knows there are still a lot of people on the fence about it. She says she thinks that is completely normal for people to be apprehensive of anything so new, she says she’s even had colleagues feel that way. She says if you’re feeling uneasy, talk to a doctor about it who you trust. She also suggests looking at the studies-she says understanding the results may help put you at ease.