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Clinics held as vaccine become available

Local pharmacist explains possible reactions to vaccine

Angie Talken
Linn County Leader
Kelly Malloy, pharmacist at Marceline Family Pharmacy gives Patty Malloy her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic event, sponsored by the pharmacy on Feb. 10.

On Wednesday, Marceline Family Pharmacy held its first COVID-19 vaccine clinic where staff were able to give 100 area residents their first round of the vaccine. In recent weeks there have also been clinics held through the county health department and Green Hill Pharmacy in Brookfield, where 100 vaccinations were given on Feb. 6.

Kelly Malloy, pharmacist at Marceline Family Pharmacy said he, like other agencies, have been ordering the vaccine weekly, and are continuing to do so. However, ordering the vaccine does not mean they will receive it, since there is currently still a shortage.

"I had ordered three weeks in a row and finally got a partial order of 100, which was disappointing, but better than nothing.  I will continue to order vaccine weekly as permitted by the state.  Unfortunately, I do not know when and how many vaccines I will receive," he said. "State rules enforce that I must use the vaccination up within 10 days from receiving each shipment, so with all of the unpredictability, it makes the logistics of running a pharmacy and an immunization clinic very difficult. My ultimate goal would be to administer 100 first doses of the vaccine weekly up until it comes time for our patients' second doses to be administered then administer 100 first doses and 100-second doses (200 total) weekly until our community's needs are met."

Both Green Hills Pharmacy and Marceline Family Pharmacy have waiting lists, and while both lists are "getting quite long," Malloy said he is still encouraging people to call and get placed on the list. 

On Feb. 12, Walmart in Brookfield, Chillicothe, Kirksville, Macon and other sites across the state will also have the vaccine. Appointments must be made online. 

At the time of publication, Malloy will have received both doses of the vaccination. He said following the first dose he had a mildly sore arm for two days and a mild headache the second night. He said by day three he couldn't tell he had received a vaccine.

However, there may be varying effects for others. Including injection site reactions (pain, swelling, redness, bruising), fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, fever, mild nausea. 

Malloy said those reactions are, "... just normal immune responses to vaccinations and people should not be alarmed about. I don't like using the word 'side effects' and feel the term immune responses is much more appropriate for the mild effects.  These effects normally last one-two days."

He noted that allergic reactions are possible and may include: the sensation of throat closing, high-pitched breathing, shortness breath, wheezing, cough, hives, itching or swelling of lips, face or throat. 

"We are requiring patients to wait around at least 15 minutes (most reactions to vaccines occur in the first 15 minutes after vaccine injections) to monitor for these reactions," he said. We make sure to have EpiPens and blood pressure cuffs available.  We are also certified in CPR, first aid, and the use of AED machines."

"Other more serious side effects may include extreme nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dizziness, fainting, increased heart rate and blood pressure," he said. "These are reactions where a person should seek medical attention.  They generally occur shortly after a vaccine, but can be delayed response so people should be diligent."

Malloy said it takes time for the vaccine to begin to offer protection from the vaccine.

"The general consensus in the scientific community is that the person's immune response is reached in 7 - 14 days.  You get partial protection from the first shot and the vaccine's full potential protection after the second dose," he said. "So, 14 days after the second shot would be when that person should expect to have the maximum protection from receiving the vaccine series.  Every person is different, so this may vary from person to person."

Studies have shown following both vaccine doses a person may be up to 95% increased protection, or resistance from getting the vaccine. 

"They have immunity but are not bulletproof.  There's still so much we still don't know about the COVID-19 virus and the vaccine," Malloy said. "People who are vaccinated will have increased protection from contracting the virus and would also be expected to have a less severe and shorter duration of infection if they were by chance still unfortunate to contract the virus."

Residents of Linn County are experiencing the same delays that others are across the state and county, as there is a larger demand for the vaccine than availability. Malloy encourages residents to remain patient.

"​I just want to ask that people continue to be patient about receiving COVID-19 vaccinations," he said. "This process is very unreliable, unpredictable, and difficult to navigate.  I know from experience that all healthcare entities are working very hard to meet this community's needs."