Here at Community Health Partners, most of our staff now have been fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. As we interact with our communities in Montana on a daily basis, it’s important to us to not only protect ourselves but our patients as well.
Tey Silva, CHP’s Belgrade Clinic Director and also a Spanish medical interpreter, is one of our staff who recently finished her two-dose series of COVID-19 vaccine. We’ve heard a lot of questions about what it’s like to get the vaccine and what to expect, so we asked Tey to share her experience.
“It’s funny – I don’t ever recall being excited to get a shot, but I was very excited to get the vaccine,” Tey said. “After so many months of waiting for it, I felt very fortunate to be eligible.”
As a healthcare worker, Tey was in the highest priority group to receive the vaccine, Phase 1a. Still, the demand has been much higher than the supply, so she was unsure if they would have enough vaccine left after CHP’s clinical staff (who have the most contact with patients) had all received doses.
Tey had seen many of her friends and family in the U.S., Mexico, and Brazil impacted by the COVID-19 virus. One of her family members had to be hospitalized for two weeks with COVID-19 and nearly lost his life to it. She’d also seen her coworkers and patients in the community dealing with the effects of it.
“At first, it all seemed so far away,” she said. “The next thing you know, people close to you are being affected by it, and suddenly it’s real.”
So when she heard about the work being done to develop and test vaccines that could protect against COVID-19, she started doing her own research. She found reliable sources online and talked with her clinical colleagues to hear their views and expertise. And when she learned she had the opportunity, they all gave her strong reassurance about her decision to get vaccinated.
Tey’s first shot of the Moderna vaccine took about one minute, and Tey was required to stay put for 15 minutes after so that the nurses could monitor her for any signs of an allergic reaction. After leaving, she had a mild headache that lasted a few hours and a sore arm that lasted a few days. One month later, Tey received a second dose of the vaccine, which is required for the vaccine to be fully effective. About 9 hours after receiving the second dose, she had a low- to mild-grade fever, and continued to experience fever, sore muscles, chills, headache, and a little bit of nausea throughout the following day. After the 48-hour mark, however, all of these symptoms were gone. The only symptom beyond 48 hours was soreness in her arm, which resolved after one day.
Now, she’s feeling much better, she says. “Now that most of our staff are vaccinated, there’s a sense of pride that we are protected and protecting others as well.”
For Tey, getting the vaccine was well worth it.
For those considering whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them, Tey encourages everyone to find good, reliable sources of information from official sites such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Mayo Clinic and peer-reviewed scientific articles to help you research on your own prior to making a decision. She also recommends seeking professional advice by talking to your primary care provider to ask them if you are a good candidate for any of the vaccines that are available right now.
“I would especially encourage Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) to get protected,” said Tey, a Latina woman herself. “Nationally, BIPOC are at 2-4 times higher risk of hospitalization and death for COVID than whites. In Montana, the age-adjusted mortality rate was 11.6 times higher among American Indians and Alaskan Natives compared to whites.”
The virus can also disproportionately affect our rural communities here in Montana, as hospitals aren’t easily accessible for many Montana residents. As of October 30, 2020, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reported over 32,000 COVID‐19 cases and over 400 deaths. These deaths will rank as the 4th leading cause of death in Montana or higher for 2020 – greater than the average number of deaths from influenza or pneumonia in the last four years.
“We have lost too many lives to this virus,” Tey said. “It was important to me to get vaccinated because I care about my family, our patients, my coworkers, my neighbors, the elders, and the rest of the people in my community.”
Have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines and want to know whether you’re a good candidate? Talk to your primary care provider at your nearest CHP clinic, and check our COVID-19 Information Page for the latest news on how the vaccines are rolling out in your area.