Clarkston City Councilor Melyssa Andrews rolled up her sleeve Monday to get the COVID-19 vaccine at Tri-State Memorial Hospital, where she works as a coronavirus screener.
After weighing the possible risks of the disease and the new vaccine, Andrews opted for the latter. In addition to working at the hospital, she is a single mother, a cashier at Walmart and cancer survivor.
“The what-ifs of COVID are worse than the what-ifs of the vaccine,” Andrews said after getting the shot. “I’d rather risk a little discomfort and possible allergic reaction versus getting or spreading COVID to others.”
Her arm was a little sore, but Andrews hasn’t experienced any adverse reactions and believes it was easier than a flu shot.
Having an elderly mother with congestive heart failure and a special needs teenager were factors in her decision, along with her own medical history. Andrews said she hopes the vaccine will help protect herself, loved ones and the community from the virus.
“As a city official and essential worker, I was not eager to get a vaccine that has not been tested for more than a year, but I feel it is necessary, and I will do whatever it takes to protect myself and others from COVID,” Andrews said. “I have several past health issues, including a history of cancer, and it made me nervous, but I don’t want fear to get in the way of a potential cure. As a leader and health care and retail worker, I feel I can help set an example for others who have the same fears and concerns as myself.”
Tri-State Memorial Hospital received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine last week and began vaccinating employees Wednesday. As of Friday, 20 employees had gotten the vaccination, and many more, including Andrews, signed up for doses this week, said hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Mann.
“Tri-State Memorial Hospital is a leading healthcare provider in our area,” CEO Don Wee said in a recent news release. “We have been planning for weeks to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We have sub-zero storage units to keep the vaccine safe, and we will continue to be prepared as we receive more. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is a victory that we will celebrate as we continue to fight against COVID-19.”
During an update to the Asotin County officials Monday morning, Brady Woodbury, administrator of the Asotin County Public Health District, said 975 doses have reportedly arrived in Clarkston to date.
“Tri-State has really stepped up,” Woodbury said. “They are an awesome resource for our community and the entire valley.”
Mann said Tri-State Memorial Hospital is following the federal and state guidelines for administering the vaccine.
Washington state created a phased approach to the COVID-19 vaccine, which calls for administering doses to high-risk health care workers and first responders during the first phase, followed by older adults living in crowded settings, essential workers and people of all ages with underlying conditions that put them at significantly higher risk of contracting the virus.
The second phase will cover K-12 teachers, child care workers, critical workers in essential industries, people in group homes, jail inmates and all older adults not included in the first round. The third phase is aimed at vaccinating children and people who work in occupations “important to the functioning of society.” The final phase will include everyone residing in the United States who did not have access to the COVID-19 vaccine in previous phases.
Although the vaccine is now being administered at hospitals throughout the region, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends social distancing and wearing a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
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