Several Country Day parents in the healthcare field have received some of the more than 2 million vaccine doses that have been administered as of Jan. 26 in California, according to the California Department of Public Health. Although distribution has been expanded by the state government to all people over the age of 65, a Jan. 19 Kaiser Permanente email to patients stated that they would not have enough supply to start doing so. Instead, Kaiser will continue to vaccinate healthcare workers and long-term care patients only, and later expand to people 75 years or older. Country Day parents who have received the vaccine said they feel safer now. Dr. David Kaufman, a plastic surgeon and parent of freshman Ava Kaufman and seventh-grade student Grant Kaufman, received both doses of the vaccine from Mercy Hospital in Folsom. The process of getting the doses was very organized and orderly, Kaufman said. “I had an appointment at a given time. I showed up. I completed the paperwork. I got the injection. I sat for the required 15 minutes afterward to make sure I didn’t have any adverse reactions, and then I went about my day.” He said he didn’t experience any side effects. The best part of receiving the vaccine for Kaufman was the removal of uncertainty about contracting COVID-19 and the potential to return to normal. Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Teimour Nasirov, parent of fifth-grade student Yama Nasirov and seventh-grade student Zema Nasirov, recently received the vaccine as well. The decision to do so was not difficult for Nasirov. “I know there have been a lot of concerns because it’s a new vaccine,” he said. “But just because it’s new, it doesn’t mean it’s not known.” There has been research done on mRNA vaccines, Nasirov said, which has made him feel more secure. Some of his colleagues have received the vaccine and had minimal side effects. Dr. Seth Robinson, a pulmonary critical care physician and parent of freshman Eliana Robinson, has received both doses. He treats COVID-19 patients and has seen the number of patients rise in the recent surge. He usually spends half his time in the hospital and half conducting video or phone clinic visits, but he has had to cut down on clinic work for the last month due to the surge of COVID-19 cases. Robinson wanted to be protected from COVID-19 and to stay healthy with the vaccine. “I know that it’s what we need to stay safe,” he said. “COVID-19 is significantly worse and much higher risk than the vaccine itself.” Robinson had more symptoms after the second vaccination than the first, which caused him some fatigue and weakness the first day after the shot. Michelle Touw, a physician assistant focused on infectious diseases and parent of sophomore Adam Akins, also received both doses of the vaccine. She had some arm pain after receiving the first and second shots, but no other side effects. In addition to pain at the injection site, the CDC reports other possible side effects, including swelling, fever, chills, tiredness and headache. However, these effects usually dissipate by the second or third day after vaccination. Robinson said he feels safer after his vaccination, but doesn’t plan to change anything about his daily routine. However, he’s hopeful that increased vaccination can help break the cycle of transmission of COVID-19. Kaufman said the vaccination has given him peace of mind about his probability of infecting others.
“I feel great,” he said. “I sort of feel bulletproof.” He hopes to change his routine by reducing the precautionary measures he takes. “I think once you’re fully vaccinated, I think the whole notion of masks and social distancing is unnecessary,” he said. “But unfortunately, I don’t think the government or scientists are willing to take the leap and say that.” Once more people are vaccinated and recommendations can consider that, he said steps can be taken to return to normalcy. Touw doesn’t plan to change her routine after her second dose of the vaccine. “I’m out in front of patients all the time, so I have to wear all my personal protective equipment all the time,” she said. “I will keep doing that until they tell us we can relax a little bit.” Once herd immunity is achieved when 70 percent of the population is vaccinated, Nasirov said things could be changed with COVID-19 restrictions. However, he won’t change his routine or stop following COVID-19 restrictions. “I’m somebody who needs to lead by example,” he said. “It’s not just because I feel not safe, but because I want to show that it still needs to be practiced.” Robinson also said that a routine change wouldn’t be able to happen for some time. “I think a lot more people need to have the vaccine before we can change our behavior,” Robinson said. “But it’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
By Samhita Kumar — Originally published in the Feb. 2 edition of the Octagon