TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — We all know what a strain the coronavirus has put on our healthcare workers. One doctor on the front lines says with his second dose of the vaccine comes hope for better days ahead for all of us.
It's been just under a month since those first vaccinations started here in Tallahassee. Now healthcare workers are starting to get their second doses.
Dr. Jose Santana is among the healthcare workers at Capitol Regional Medical Center who received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine on December 23rd; the very day the vials arrived.
"No symptoms. No real pain at the site. It was very comfortable. I was able to work the day after with no problems and Ihaven't had any problems since," said Dr. Santana.
28 days later, Dr. Santana returned for his second dose. In those 28 days, Capital Regional Medical Center vaccinated close to 2,000 of their healthcare workers and other community healthcare workers in the Big Bend. With the first dose, Dr. Santana says less members of their staff have tested positive for the virus. That's a change he's hopeful will be mirrored in our communities.
"Using our physicians and staff that have been out with COVID, we've seen a reduction in number. That should mimic what we see in the general population even after the first dose and subsequently the second," he said.
While healthcare workers and seniors remain a priority, groups like Village Square are looking ahead to when the vaccine will be available for everyone and answering any questions the public might have.
"They want to understand how age differs,what's the difference between the first and the second? What's the difference between the Pfizer and the Moderna," said Village Sqaure Marketing Coordinator Skip Foster.
Foster moderated a panel of medical experts Jan. 13th.
"The point behind it is to cut through the clutter and give people information that they need," he said.
Now Foster plans to move into more locally focused forums.
"A really unprecedented partnership is developing between TMH and Capital Regional Medical Center in partnership with the city and with the county and the health department. We're going to start doing a weekly Zoom meeting every Friday at noon," Foster revealed.
Those forums will stream online every week, starting Jan. 22. Dr. Santana believes getting that correct information out is crucial.
"Unfortunately we're still in high numbers and that includes both in the hospitals and the community at large. The importance is still there," said Dr. Santana.
Still, there is more work will need to be done to get people to take the vaccine. A Pew Research poll released in December found 60 percent of Americans would definitely or probably get the vaccine. But only 42% of African Americans plan to get the vaccine. Dr. Santana says for anyone apprehensive, there is no reason to be.
"I would say there's nothing to be afriad of. The reactions are very minimal for those who have had reactions. Pretty much about the same rate as any other vacciantion. There should not be any fear about receiving this vaccination," the doctor said.
To help inspire more African-Americans to take the vaccine, community leaders have created the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. Southside activist Talethia Edwards is on that task force.
"My community sometimes gets left out of information and access. I wanted to make sure I could disseminate information hot off the press," said Edwards.
The group's main goal is to convince at least 60% of African- Americans to get the vaccine.
"We've really been a part of the information gathering phase. Finding out from each healthcare entity what are the processes, where can people go, how can they make an appointment, what's the science behind it?," she said.
While Dr. Santana says the key to ending the pandemic lies within the vaccine.
"We're likely to see decreases in numbers through herd immunity both through vaccinations and unfortunately through infection. As soon as we employ a significant amount of vaccinations, we should see the community numbers go down significantly both in our state and nationally," said Dr. Santana.
Right now anyone 65 years and older can schedule an appointment to get their vaccination. You can find out how to schedule an appointment here.