One of the first nurses in El Paso to get COVID-19 vaccines reflects on her experience a week later

El Paso News

Sarah Ellis, a registered nurse at UMC, was one of the first healthcare workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in El Paso.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in El Paso on Tuesday, December 15 at University Medical Center with the first healthcare workers receiving the first injections shortly after.

Sarah Ellis, a vascular access nurse at UMC was one of five nurses to receive the first dose of the vaccine. One week later, she shared her experience of the days following the injection.

“Right after I got the shot I returned to work immediately,” Ellis said. “I felt completely fine, it hurt less than the flu shot, to be honest.”

Ellis said she had slight soreness the following day in her arm at the injection site but said it went away as the day progressed. As far as other symptoms, she said she was fine.

Ellis said she recommended the shot to anyone who is able to get it currently in efforts to minimize spreading the virus now that cases are slowly beginning to decrease in El Paso.

While Ellis acknowledges some people can be skeptical about getting the vaccine, she shared her insight to people who may be waiting to see how others react to the vaccine.

“Just start being optimistic, stop being so negative, a lot of people are being very negative about the vaccine and don’t think like that, if people want things to change then this is the way it needs to be, believe in science and believe that it’s going to work,” Ellis said.

She said she asked some of her peers how they felt and they also reported little to no side effects.

“For the most part mostly everyone has zero symptoms, there were a couple guys that told me they had a headache but that could be related to anything,” Ellis said.

For Ellis, she said the vaccine is like “a breath of fresh air” as she can go to work and treat patients with COVID-19 and go home without worrying as much as before.

“I’d rather have body aches or a low-grade fever than get COVID-19,” Ellis said. “Seeing what our patients go through, yeah I’m younger and I most likely wont get that bad but you never know and it puts me at peace of mind knowing I have that vaccine.”

Dr. Armando Meza, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, also received the vaccine after they first arrived to the Sun City.

“For me the vaccine was totally uneventful,” Meza said. “The side effects were really minimal, no systemic side effects only soreness on the shoulder but honestly I was expecting more.”

Meza encourages those who are skeptical to look to healthcare workers for feedback.

“There is going to be a lot more data coming out of those who got the vaccine, the information that we have is going to be collected if you have side effects, if they are severe, so once the time comes for you to receive the vaccine there will be more reassurance that these vaccines are safe andeffective,” Meza said.

City health leaders have said the community should consider the vaccine once it’s available to them because the more people who take it, the more effective it will be in reducing the spread of the virus.

“We hope that a large number of the community receive it so we can have the community immune against COVID-19 if a large number get vaccinated,” El Paso Department of Public Health Director Angela Mora said.

Sarah Ellis said her second dose is set for Jan. 5 where she anticipates possible side effects but still nonetheless stands by her decision.

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