McDaniel faculty members are being equipped with the COVID-19 vaccine

(Ciara O'Brien / McDaniel Free Press).

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more readily available, some of the McDaniel community is beginning to receive their first doses. Eric Immler, Chief of the Department of Campus Safety, first heard about vaccine availability as the campus representative with the Carroll County Health Department (CCHD).  “In late December, as CCHD was planning the logistics of their vaccination clinic, the County Health Officer Ed Singer reached out to me, advising that they were preparing the schedule for the 1A group, which included all public safety in the county,” said Immler.

After he was notified, he contacted other eligible staff members such as members of the wellness center and other departments. Tracy Fleming, secretary for several academic departments, human resources assistant, and mask-making champion was one of those staff members.

Both went to a clinic held by the Carroll County Health Department.

“It was the best experience! They were organized, professional, quick and I felt safe the whole time,” Fleming said.

“We registered online and received very clear instructions by email. From the time I walked in the door until I had the shot, it was less than five minutes! We had to wait after receiving the shot to make sure we had no adverse effects then we could leave. I have also been impressed with the follow up. I have received regular text messages asking me how I feel and any effects that I am having,” she continued.

“Their online registration process with clear directions was easy to navigate. On-site, their process was smooth and efficient. They walked you through each step of the process as soon as you entered the facility, from initial registration confirmation, to receiving the vaccine, and being directed to the after shot waiting area. Total time was about 20 minutes. In addition to the medical staff providing the vaccine, there are emergency medical personnel on-site to monitor those waiting 15 minutes after the vaccine is administered to ensure there are no immediate side effects that require medical attention. Logistically, they have established a very hands on and efficient process for those receiving the vaccine,” Immler said.

Although Immler and Fleming have received both doses at this point, Fleming only received the first at the time of this interview.

“My arm was sore for about three days. The needle was bigger than I thought! I was lucky and did not have some of the bad side effects that I have heard from others,” Fleming said of her first vaccine experience.

“I did have a few mild side effects after receiving the second dose. The following day, I developed a low grade fever for a few hours and fatigue for about one day. In connecting with friends and colleagues that recently received the second dose, I have found that mild or little to no side effects is most common,” said Immler.

Despite receiving the vaccine, Fleming and Immler are still taking precautions to fight COVID-19.

“You still have to wear a mask, you still have to sanitize, distance and be safe. You still need to make smart and safe decisions,” said Fleming.

“We all will continue to follow all CDC guidance of distancing and wearing masks to avoid the potential spread of covid-19, especially in our close environment and congregate living on campus,’ said Immler.

When it comes to concerns about the vaccine, Immler and Fleming have the same advice: do your research. “I took the time to learn about the specific Moderna vaccine that is available in our area. For me, and many of our staff, the information provided was reassuring for us participating in the vaccination process,” said Immler.

“Do your own research! Look at reliable, science-based sources. Ultimately, do what you feel is best for you,” Fleming adds.

“Educating yourself and having open communication with your doctor or health officials is key to understanding how the vaccine may impact you. Locally, the Health Department has provided specific information about the vaccine they are administering. Seeking out accurate information to make this personal decision for what is right for you. I encourage everyone to educate themselves and get the vaccine when it becomes available to help prevent the spread of the virus,” said Immler.