Local healthcare workers prepare to get vaccinated this week

With vaccine distribution plans in full swing, healthcare workers are preparing for their first dose with some getting it as soon as Tuesday afternoon.

For Harborview nurse Jessica Lowery, the email came in Friday night.  

“I didn't think it was going to be that quick!” she said.

Lowery, who manages three COVID-19 testing sites, was pleasantly surprised she was already able to sign up for a date and time to get her first round of the vaccine.  

“I'm very excited and I didn't think I’d be that excited for the vaccine," said Lowery.

After so many months of coming in close contact with COVID patients, she said it's sinking in what a game-changer the vaccine will be for her and her team. 

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“I don't think I really realized how stressed I was, I was just sort of going through the motions of what I was told is the best way to handle the patients. Now that I’m thinking of getting vaccinated I’m like okay, this is actually a relief. I can kind of feel the weight being lifted," said Lowery.

The vaccine being ready to go is in part thanks to the volunteer participants in various vaccine trials, like Richelle Dickerson.

“I feel like we need to have some kind of a game-changer in this whole COVID pandemic, and I felt like I had to do it," she said.

Dickerson made the decision after learning Moderna was looking for people of color to participate, but having trouble filling all their spots.

“The people who've been disproportionately affected by th​is are not white people, they are Indigenous and black people," said Dickerson.

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The phase she’s participated in is called a blind study, where there’s a 50/50 chance she’s got a placebo instead of the actual vaccine. So while she can’t be 100% sure after her second injection, she experienced some side effects that she says align with others who’ve had the vaccine.

“I would say it was maybe an inconvenience to not feel good for a couple days," said Dickerson.

She said her side effects were nothing compared to what many experience when they get the actual virus. As the vaccine continues to be studied, she said her hope is that eventually, everyone will feel comfortable getting it.

“We have not seen any risk yet with the vaccine, we have seen risks with COVID.”