Healthcare workers begin receiving second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Healthcare workers across the state are now receiving their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, bringing them one step closer to immunity against the virus.

That moment came for two medical directors who got their first COVID shot just 21 days ago.

“It certainly was a relief, but speckled with the reality that it didn’t mean we could let our guard down at all,” Dr. Ilse Jenouri said.

Miriam Hospital Medical Director Dr. Ilse Jenouri and Rhode Island Hospital Medical Director Dr. David Portelli celebrated the moment together after months of fighting the virus on the frontlines.

On Monday, they returned back for their second shot, once again, side by side.

“Over the weekend, people have already started getting shot number two,” Dr. Jenouri said. “So, we’re exactly 21 days from our first shot, but work has not slowed down on round one for those who have not gotten it yet.”

So far, Lifespan has distributed 9,000 doses of the vaccine.

The two doctors say the feeling is bittersweet. It provides a sense of personal comfort, but it doesn’t mean people can let their guards down.

“It’s like crossing the bridge, but there’s a big crowd behind us and they’ve all got to cross the bridge, too,” Dr. Portelli said. “So, it’s going to take time and logistics and a lot of being careful as we get everyone across the bridge.”

Both doctors say Rhode Island is not out of the woods and they’re concerned about fatigue and a spike following the holidays.

“In the last week or 10 days the numbers have been creeping up,” Dr. Portelli said. “We haven’t seen a spike, but now, with this new infectious strain that was first identified in the U.K., I’m concerned that things could get worse especially if we’re not strict about social distancing and masking.”

They say just because you have a level of immunity doesn’t mean you can stop wearing masks. It’s currently unclear whether or not those with the vaccine can still carry the virus and spread it to others.

“Wearing masks is not just about protecting ourselves; it’s about protecting all the people around us,” Dr. Jenouri said. “We’ve shown that it’s very effective and there would be no reason to stop doing that.”

According to the CDC, it takes time for your body to build protection after the vaccination, so the second shot may not protect you until a week or two after the second dose.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island