1. Before the coronavirus outbreak, what did your role as a certified medical assistant look like?
Before the pandemic, I was working full time in the infectious disease division at the department's medical annex, where I would administer and interpret tuberculin skin tests, conduct refugee screenings, provide adult and childhood immunizations, and assist a bit in the STD clinic.
2. How has your job changed over the past year? What new responsibilities did you take on last spring?
It has been an adjustment, to say the least. I was out on maternity leave at the beginning of the pandemic. When I came back in May, the infectious disease side of the medical annex had been shut down, and I was only doing immunizations and STD screenings. When we finally started providing more services over the summer, we added extra safety precautions by screening all patients prior to their appointments, screening them when they arrived for appointments and wearing masks at all times in the clinics. Finally, this winter we were told that we would be getting the COVID vaccine, and many of us shifted our work over to the vaccination site at the Coliseum.
3. You're among the health professionals administering vaccine now. What does your typical day look like? How many vaccines do you give in one day?
I now work at the vaccination site Wednesdays through Saturdays. On a typical day, I will vaccinate about 60 people, except for Saturdays when we're only open 9 a.m. to noon. On those days I average about 20 to 30 people.
4. What are you hearing when you give someone a first or second dose of vaccine?
When I am done giving a shot, I often hear, “That was it?” or “You're done already?” I would guess about 90% of the people I come in contact with are just so grateful they are finally able to get their vaccine. Many of them cannot believe how smooth the whole process is at the site. It has been gratifying to be part of this effort, and I am honored to help.
5. What would you say to someone who is reluctant to be vaccinated?
I have had very few patients who are leery about getting their vaccine. And I have noticed the majority of concerns are not necessarily about the vaccine itself, but more to do with fears of the needlestick or possible symptoms they may experience after receiving their shots. When people do seem reluctant or express concerns, I do my best to reassure them of the safety of the vaccine and let them know symptoms they may have are usually a sign the shot is working.