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Godwin students and teachers share their experiences getting the COVID vaccine

In the past year, the coronavirus has completely changed the way we live through wearing masks, socially distancing, virtual learning, and much more. 

Throughout this time, scientists have been working to create an effective vaccine. They used information that they have been researching for many years. 

After much research, alterations, and testings, the first vaccine by Pfizer was ready to be distributed to the public. In Virginia, people began to slowly receive the vaccine in late December. 

In January and February, doses became more available, and therefore it was able to be given to more people, more quickly. 

By late January, Godwin teachers and students started to get the vaccine. Senior Ashish Vaidyanathan received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 21.

 “I was able to sign up quite easily through [Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS)] and was able to get my vaccine at the Arthur Ashe Center in Richmond. The process there was really efficient,” said Vaidyanathan. 

The teachers who have gotten vaccinated received their doses at the Richmond Raceway. Godwin teachers said that the registration and vaccination process was very organized. 

Godwin physics teacher Nick Dzienny got the Pfizer vaccine. According to Dzienny, he did not have a preference of which vaccine he got. 

“I think it’s more important to get everyone vaccinated quickly than to worry about the minute differences between them,” said Dzienny. 

Most were only concerned about their possible reaction and side-effects that they would experience with the vaccine. 

Spanish teacher Liz Meadows said that she had heard conflicting information about the safety of the vaccine. However, she decided to get the vaccine after one of her friends received the Pfizer vaccine and experienced no problems. 

Most said that their only side effect was solely a sore arm the day they received their dose.

“I had some pain at the injection site after the first dose, after the second dose the pain was worse but still bearable,” said Vaidyanathan.

Some had heard about the differences in the side effects from the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

“According to some of my friends that received the Moderna vaccine, after the second shot, they were extremely sick with flu-like symptoms for a few days,” said Meadows. 

Godwin senior Shailee Patel, who received the Moderna vaccine, said that she heard others felt very tired and developed rashes. 

“I did not have any symptoms after getting the first dose,” said Patel.

English teacher Miriam Ashworth said, “I think the vaccine is the best way for us to get this pandemic under control. Additionally, I got the vaccine so that I will be able to safely see my family, my friends, and my students.” 

One might be concerned with the side-effects and the actual effectiveness of the vaccines. According to the CDC, all vaccines being given out have been highly effective at preventing further cases of COVID-19. 

  Junior Carly Smyth said that she had heard about the vaccines and their efficiency. 

“I was glad I got it because it seems to be very effective,” said Smyth. 

Ashworth said that she stayed up-to-date with the developments of the vaccine. 

“Ultimately, I trust our scientists and medical professionals and that led to my decision to get vaccinated,” said Ashworth.

Similarly, Dzienny said, “Being a man of science, I trust the vaccine and had no reservations.” 

Senior Kristin Jackson, being involved in cross country, gymnastics, and track, found this year to be very different from a typical year of school activities. 

“I just wanted to take the opportunity to get the vaccine to protect other people and myself from COVID, and be one step closer to hopefully returning back to sports and normal life,” said Jackson. 

Although the vaccine is said to be highly effective, it is not 100 percent effective. The question now is if the vaccine stops one from spreading COVID-19. Because of this Dzienny said, “I am still masked up, quarantining, and staying distanced for now.” 

Jackson said that she decided to remain learning virtually before she knew she was getting the vaccine, but she said, “It may have encouraged me to go back in person if I had known.”

Ashworth said that with the vaccine, she feels much safer teaching in person. 

Teachers were given the option to receive the vaccine through Henrico County. Students have received the vaccine through their jobs or places they volunteer. 

“I volunteer at Tuckahoe Volunteer Rescue Squad as an EMT. Since I see COVID+ or possible COVID patients regularly, I was eligible to get the vaccine,” said Vaidyanathan. 

Patel also was able to get the vaccine through volunteering. 

“I am a volunteer with the Medical Reserve Corps of Virginia and at the end, the shift’s leftover vaccines are offered to the volunteers, so I was able to receive one,” said Patel. 

Jackson, who works at a local animal hospital, was able to be in group 1b for the vaccine in the category of food and agriculture. 

With an increase in the distribution of vaccines, it is still necessary to socially distance and wear masks correctly to stop the spread of COVID.

Dzienny said, “The quickest way to beat this pandemic (beyond common sense and safety) is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. I’m just happy to do my part to protect myself, my loved ones, and slow the spread.” 

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