GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As more and more health workers and first responders get the COVID-19 vaccine, a local infectious disease expert warns that this may lead to a false sense of security at a time when the risk for contracting the virus is greater than ever. 

Hillary Alycon proudly displays her vaccination record card. As the Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Glens Falls Hospital, she was among the first in the state to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
“I jokingly said to my family: ‘I kind of feel like the Incredible Hulk punched me in the arm. But it only lasted for less than a day, that soreness,’” she said.

Fever, chills, and headaches are more common after the second dose.

“Your body has the opportunity to begin the antibody production, so with that second dose, the antibodies are kicking in and your body is saying, ‘wait, we’ve started to see this before,’ and now it’s really recognizing it and your body starts to throw out those symptoms, those side effects,” she said.

The first dose only provides about 50% immunity. The second—more than 90%, but even then, Alycon says we can’t let our guards down until herd immunity is reached. That’s when more than 80% of the population is vaccinated.

“This is not a coat of armor. It’s a protector for sure and it’s going to lead us in the right direction, but we do still want to wear our masks and stay vigilant about hand hygiene and social distancing,” she said.

With any vaccine there’s the potential for severe allergic reactions. They are rare, but Alycon says you may hear more about those events occurring as a lot of people are getting the vaccine over a short period of time.

“If people have had severe allergic reactions in the past, consult with your physician, of course, but don’t let it deter you from getting the vaccine,” said Alycon.

Fear and misunderstandings concerning the COVID-19 vaccine may be making people reluctant to get vaccinated. How can people talk to their family members or friends who may be among the most susceptible to serious complications from COVID-19?

If you or someone in your life is hesitant about getting the vaccine, Alycon says it’s important to seek out a trusted source and ask questions.

“I would just encourage people to try and hone in on why they’re uncomfortable in getting the vaccination. So some people didn’t understand the delivery mechanism, some people are scared there are going to be long-term side effects. Just try to understand the why behind what makes you uncomfortable because then it’s easier to address with answers, with pure science,” she said. 

Alycon says she fully expects a surge in cases into the new year as we see the impact of holiday gatherings.

Alycon said it’s disconcerting to hear about serious allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine but people should keep in mind these are rare reactions. It may seem like there are more cases of serious reactions but Alycon said the cases are a direct reflection of a large number of people being vaccinated.

The most reported side effect of either COVID-19 vaccine in its clinical trial was injection site reaction or pain. To help people understand more about the vaccine, Glens Falls Hospital created a community education video about the COVID-19 vaccine and posted it on their website.