THS teachers receive Coronavirus vaccine


Jennifer Watson receiving her first dose

Elizabeth Lee

In the past few weeks, many teachers at Tunstall High School have received the first dose of the Coronavirus vaccine. Some teachers have been looking forward to being able to get the vaccine for COVID-19, so they can feel safer about coming to school.

 Healthcare providers were the first to receive the COVID vaccine.  Group 1b is the second group of people getting a vaccine. The Virginia Department of Health claims that Virginia’s phase 1b vaccinates frontline essential workers (teachers at number 3); people ages 65 and older; people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and migrant labor camps; and people aged 16 to 64 with a high risk medical condition or disability that increases their risk of severe illness from COVID-19. According to data reported since September 28,  at least 6 employees and 11 in-person students have tested positive for COVID that attend Tunstall High; this has many teachers ready to get vaccinated.

History teacher, Jennifer Watson, has not had COVID and decided to get the first dose of the vaccine on January 23. “It didn’t feel any worse than a flu shot,” Watson said. “I felt like it was my V-Day: victory over the virus with the vaccine.” She was very excited to get the first dose, yet is very nervous to finish the process due to rumors of the second vaccine’s side effects. She does not feel safe yet, and says, “I know that I will still have to use strategies to stay safe after the second dose.”

Tara Mills, who is also a history teacher at Tunstall, felt a sense of relief after receiving the first dose of the COVID vaccine. She indicates that her arm hurt after getting the shot and later was tired. Mills said she was “anxiously excited to get it,” and is super excited to finish. Mills has not had COVID; however, her mother and father both had the virus after winter break.

Mills claims she feels safer to an extent and that “even after the second dose, I don’t think I will feel safe when I know others are not practicing the same level of social distancing and things we have been doing.”

Even after the second dose, those who have been vaccinated should continue to wear masks properly, socially distance, and clean areas around them regularly. Just because some are newly vaccinated or will soon become fully vaccinated, we will all not be fully immune to the virus at hand. Mills states, “Hopefully more and more people can get the vaccine, get herd immunity and we find some sort of balance or symbiosis.”

According to the CDC, community immunity (aka herd immunity) is when a large majority of the population has become immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination/or prior illness) making it hard to spread from person to person. So when the faculty and staff at Tunstall High School have gotten both doses of the vaccine, we will still need to wear masks and maintain social distance.

Librarian Linda Yeatts received her first dose of the vaccine on Wednesday, February 3, 2021. Yeatts has not had COVID, and was more than a little  nervous to receive the vaccine.  She claims, “I made the mistake of surfing the Internet for side effects, and of course, immediately was bombarded with horror stories about what had happened to perfectly healthy people after taking the vaccine. Pretty scary stuff.” However, she says, “The potential benefits outweigh the risk of a bad reaction. I need to stay as healthy as possible for my husband who is facing a possible kidney transplant this year. ”

Yeatts claims that she does not feel any safer just yet, “I don’t want a false sense of security causing me to drop my guard.” She says that she felt emotionally relieved to begin the immunity process, but admits,  “I felt a little woozy about ten minutes after the shot, but I think it was nerves combined with not eating anything beforehand.” 

Like Watson and Mills, Mrs. Linda Yeatts will continue to take the same safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Teresa Gaither, bookkeeper, said, “I was a little nervous to get the first dose.”  Gaither said that she feels as if her immune system is stronger now that she has gotten her first dose. She says, “The next day, my arm was very sore, but not unbearable.”  Gaither will be glad to receive her second dose, and she will also continue to take safety precautions.

This pandemic is still in motion; however, teachers are hopeful for the future. Mills says, “I would love to see us return to normal, say in the next school year, because I miss my kids. I miss all the energy.”

Teachers who wanted to receive the shots should be fully vaccinated by Friday, March 12 with full immunity after another two weeks.