NEWS | Feb. 5, 2021

Vermont Guard delivers 2nd vaccine doses, prepares for town hall Q&A

By Don Branum Vermont National Guard Public Affairs

The second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine might kick you in the pants, but it won’t turn you into a fish or give you superpowers.

Medics with the Vermont Air National Guard’s 158th Medical Group delivered first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine here Feb. 3 while answering questions and dispelling rumors.

Lt. Col. Sarah Davis, the officer in charge of immunizations for the 158th MDG, received her second dose of the vaccine Feb. 1 and said recipients could experience some mild flu-like symptoms one or two days after receiving their second injection.

“I had a much sorer arm than after my first shot,” she said. “Most people are experiencing a mild fever and general fatigue. I spent most of yesterday morning on my couch, but by the afternoon, I was up and around.” However, the vaccine will still be effective even if recipients don’t show symptoms, Davis added.

Many of the questions Davis said she’s fielded while vaccinating patients represent down-to-Earth concerns. For example, the vaccine will not cause recipients to test positive for COVID-19.

“The vaccine doesn’t contain any part of the virus,” she said. Instead, the vaccine relies on messenger RNA, a set of instructions that causes cells to create a harmless protein. The body’s immune system recognizes this protein as foreign and create defenses against it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, www.cdc.gov.

Finally, people with concerns about allergies should check the vaccine ingredients list on the CDC website.

Other questions, however, trace back widespread disinformation.

“’Does the vaccine alter my DNA?’ No, it does not,” Davis said, recalling some of the questions she’s answered. “’Does it make me sterile?’ No, it does not. ‘Is it made from fetal tissue?’ No, it is not.” Because the messenger RNA in the vaccine never enters the nucleus of a patient’s cells, it cannot alter DNA, according to the CDC. Additionally, messenger RNA vaccines are not manufactured using fetal cells, according to the Vermont Department of Health, nor do they contain any animal products, latex, or preservatives.

Davis said Soldiers and Airmen should seek answers to questions from legitimate information sources, such as supervisors or commanders, medical professionals, or government websites like the CDC or the Vermont Department of Health, www.healthvermont.gov. Soldiers and Airmen can ask questions anonymously during a town hall Q&A Feb. 3 with Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, the state adjutant general, and medical officials with the Vermont National Guard.

Davis encouraged Soldiers and Airmen who are on the fence about receiving the vaccine to get the shot.

“My advice is, do it for others,” she said. “More contagious variants of COVID-19 are happening because the virus is being allowed to spread. If we can get more people vaccinated, we can slow the spread and reduce the number of variants.”