We’ve all heard it a million times by now: this year has been incredibly challenging and unlike anything anyone ever could have imagined. We’ve endured months and months of uncertainty, with no clear end to this pandemic in sight. But on January 11, the light at the end of the tunnel got just a little brighter for the EHS teachers. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that priority Group 1B, which included teachers, was eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, teachers across the state rejoiced. Then, the race to schedule an appointment ensued.
Campus spoke to several EHS teachers about their vaccine experiences. On the day appointments opened, some of them woke up extra early to book their appointments online. “Some of the younger faculty members went on the website very early the first day we teachers were eligible and passed along the registration info,” recalls Ms. Schutt. “Then Señor Jeremiah very kindly ran back and forth between A14 and A2 to help this old lady navigate the system. In fifteen minutes I had my appointment!”
But for Ms. Fischer, getting the appointment was just the first hurdle of her vaccine race. After waiting three weeks for her first appointment, it was untimely postponed because of snow.
All of the teachers that Campus spoke to were very pleased with their experiences at vaccination sites. Mr. Catoliato, who received both doses of his vaccine at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, found that, “the vaccination site was incredibly well run - amply staffed by friendly, professional healthcare workers and national guard members who created an environment that was as warm and inviting as could be, considering how sterile and safe it must be.”
Ms. Golub, who received her vaccine at the Westchester County Center, said, “My experience at Westchester County Center was excellent. They were quick, efficient and all of the people working there -- from the nurses to the volunteers -- were great.” Ms. Schutt felt similarly, noting, “The County Center operation ran beautifully. Of course it helped that, purely by coincidence, Ms. Moore was right in front of me -- well, six feet in front!”
All of the EHS teachers that Campus talked to received the Pfizer vaccine. After getting the first dose, Ms. Golub said, “My arm was sore the following day, but other than that I experienced no symptoms.” Mr. Catoliato agreed, stating, “After the first dose, my arm was sensitive to touch around the injection site, and the muscles in that arm were sore, in general.”
However, the second dose was a different story. “For me the second dose was worse,” said Ms. Golub. “I had a low fever, a headache and was exhausted. My arm was also sore. These side effects only lasted for one day. By the next morning, I felt fine.” After Mr. Catoliato’s second dose, he noted, “My temperature rose to 102.1, and my entire body ached for a period of 24 hours (from 12 hours to 36 hours after getting the second dose).”
Beyond the varying side effects, receiving the vaccine was an emotional experience for many. “It's been such a rough year, and to stand in line with a group of strangers who all want to fight the pandemic is unifying,” said Ms. Fischer. “I drive by the County Center on my way to work every day, and the first few days, I got teary-eyed as I saw people waiting in line. I am grateful for science and that I am fortunate enough to be eligible.” After receiving her first dose, Ms. Schutt remembers, “Everyone was smiling and the world seemed more hopeful as we exited.”
In addition to adapting their lives outside of school like the rest of us, teachers have had to adapt the ways they teach, too. After months of different learning models, modified lessons, new types of assessments, and hybrid class activities, it’s safe to say that this school year has been far from normal for teachers. But getting the vaccine has brought them one step closer to “normality,” and that is a major step forward for our entire school community.