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Essential Winnacunnet students and staff begin to receive vaccines

Updated: Jun 13

Courtesy Photo - Wikimedia Commons

A healthcare worker holds up a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Some students and staff in the Winnacunnet community deemed "essential" were vaccinated in phases 1a and 1b of N.H.'s vaccination plan.

As the rollout of vaccines to combat the spread of COVID-19 continues in N.H, students and staff members of the Winnacunnet community have already received vaccines. Currently underway, phases 1a and 1b of N.H.’s vaccination plan, include healthcare workers and those who work in long-term care facilities.

One of those workers is senior Emma Record, who works in dining services at Hampton’s Cornerstone assisted living community. She received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Jan. 21 and is scheduled to receive her second dose Feb. 11.

“The company offered to vaccinate employees in addition to the residents since we have so much contact with them,” Record said. “Overall, I’m really happy that I got it, but I plan on still following strict COVID[-19] guidelines.”

Record said the process to get the shot through her workplace was relatively easy, and involved a consent form and pre-registration. Senior Madison Gakopoulos works with Record, and also got the first dose of the vaccine.

“I’m so glad that I was able to get it because I know of so many people who won’t be able to for many months, at least,” Gakopolulos said. “Obviously I’m going to continue to be very careful but it’s nice knowing that my risk is lowered significantly.”

School nurses were also included in Phase 1a of the vaccination plan, including Winnacunnet’s school nurses, Tine Svanholm and Laurie Cook.

“I was able to schedule my appointment for my first vaccine online. I was given information on how to do this through the New Hampshire School Nurse Association, which I am a member of,” Cook said. “I found it easy to do and had no problems doing it… I received my second vaccine on Jan. 30.”

Both Record and Gakopolous, who only received their first doses so far, said that they experienced mild side effects from the first dose of their vaccines, including headache, chills, body aches, and other cold-like symptoms.

“The shot itself seemed slightly less painful than the flu vaccine and for the rest of the day, I didn’t even notice it,” Record said. “The next day, my arm was sore, and the uncomfortableness was higher than the flu vaccine.”

The Centers for Disease Control website and Cook both attest that these types of side effects are completely normal for this type of vaccine. Gakopolous described them as “worth it” to protect herself and others. Cook, who received the Moderna vaccine, described side effects as well.

“[After the first dose], it took 72 hours for my symptoms to subside, but I felt well enough to work after that,” Cook said. “My second vaccination was worse as far as the immune response that I experienced. Within the first eight hours I felt very ill… these symptoms lasted seven days.”

Currently, N.H. is in the process of vaccinating those in phase 1b, including seniors over 65 years of age. Phase 1b is expected to last well into March. According to CDC statistics as of midday on Feb. 11, 227,225 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to N.H, which constitutes 20,389 per 100,000 residents. In comparison, only 176,192 doses have been administered to date, which equates to 12,958 per 100,000 residents.

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