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Ann is a nuclear pharmacist who also lives with type 1 diabetes. We chatted with her about her recent experience with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Hi Ann! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me. I realize many people living with diabetes have had a challenging year whether trying to avoid COVID-19 or dealing with the virus itself. Now that a vaccine is available, I know many are wondering if it is right for them.
How long have you been living with type one diabetes?
I was diagnosed in March 1992, a few days before my 7th birthday.
Did having type 1 diabetes impact your decision on what you wanted to do career-wise?
Kind of. I would have loved to try to go to medical school, but I was worried about the difficulty of managing my diabetes throughout such a demanding program.
I comprehend you are a pharmacist, congrats! I know that takes many years of education and hard work and dedication! At what point did you know that was what you wanted to do?
I started working as a pharmacy cashier when I was in high school. That got me interested in the field of pharmacy.
Where do you work?
I’m a nuclear pharmacist for the University of Oklahoma.
I understand you have a extremely important role now that the vaccines have arrived at your University. What is your role? And why is it so important that you are all vaccinated?
My pharmacy is preparing all of the vaccine doses for the health sciences campus that we’re a part of. We prepared about 3,700 doses for this initial round. Besides preparing the vaccine, my pharmacy also delivers nuclear medicine doses to hospitals and clinics all around central Oklahoma. Our staff is potentially exposed to COVID during every delivery we make. It would be a devastating loss if multiple staff became infected and we were unable to operate at full capacity.
When you found out you were going to receive the vaccine, what were your initial thoughts?
I was thrilled! I had already made the decision that I would get vaccinated as soon as I had the opportunity.
Did you find most of your colleagues were willing to take it without hesitation? If they were reluctant, what was their reason?
So far, nearly all of our staff has received the vaccine. There are a couple who have had COVID recently, so they will not be getting vaccinated yet.
I understand the vaccine comes in two doses. When will you receive the next one?
I got the Pfizer vaccine. My next dose will be 21 days after my first dose. The Moderna vaccine doses are given 28 days apart.
Have you ever had COVID before?
I’ve never had COVID. People who have had it can still receive the vaccine. One of the current thoughts is that if you still have antibodies, you should wait to get the vaccine, so that others without antibodies may be vaccinated first.
What happens if you are exposed to COVID-19 in the interim before you receive your second dose?
The CDC recommends deferring vaccination until after the quarantine period following a known exposure. It’s best to receive the second dose as close as possible to the 21-day mark (or 28 days for the Moderna vaccine). However, there is no maximum time period between doses.
Did you observe any side effects after receiving the shot? Many are concerned that the shot will elevate their blood sugars. Did you notice any impact on your numbers?
The only influence I noticed was some soreness around the injection site. For me, it was mild and only lasted a couple of days. I did not notice any effect on my blood sugar!
Thank you so much Ann, for answering my questions. I will be sure to check back in with you but thank you so much for doing your part to rid this world of this devastating virus!