For many, receiving their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has been cause for celebration, an injection of hope that life will soon return to normal.
"It does feel like a weight's been lifted. I feel like we don't have to be as paranoid,” said Emily, a physician assistant in a large Dallas hospital.
On her YouTube channel, ER Emily, she’s shared her vaccination experience with those looking for information.
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She started her latest video by saying, "After getting the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, I feel relieved and safe."
After receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, Emily said she had side effects that included a fever and left her feeling sick for about 24 hours.
Still, she said it was well worth it to feel safe at work again.
Since receiving the vaccine, Emily said she’s even volunteered to care for more COVID-19 patients, which she and her coworkers continue to do with precautions.
Want to Get on a Vaccine Waitlist?
As the state begins to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines for those in Phase 1A and 1B, county health departments have begun waitlists for those wish to be inoculated.
You can now register to recieve the vaccination in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Links are below:
You do not need to be a resident of the county to register for a COVID-19 vaccine in that county -- registration is open to anyone in Texas. For those without internet access, Tarrant County is also taking registrations by phone at 817-248-6299. In Dallas County, call the DCHHS vaccine hotline at 1-855-IMMUNE9 (1-855-466-8639). In Denton County, call 940-349-2585.
For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group in Texas, see this page from the Texas DSHS.
“At the hospital, we're still wearing masks. We're still wearing eye protection. We're still social distancing,” said Emily.
And with such a small percentage of Americans vaccinated, infectious diseases clinical pharmacist Meenakshi Ramanathan, an assistant professor with the UNT Health Science Center, says everyone, vaccinated or not, will need to continue taking precautions for months to come.
Those include wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.
"We still don't know the effects of these vaccines in terms of transmission from person to person, so that's where we need to be careful,” said Ramanathan.
Ramanathan said those who’ve received both doses can feel safer doing low-risk activities like going to the grocery, picking up curbside orders or going for a walk.
But when it comes to activities deemed high risk by infectious disease experts, like indoor dining, attending large events and even small gatherings, they still run the risk of getting the virus and passing it someone they love.
For those who do decide to gather, Ramanathan recommends isolating for two weeks before and after when possible.
Still, that shouldn’t minimize reason to celebrate vaccination.
"Whichever vaccines you're offered, please take it as soon as possible,” said Ramanathan.
With each shot, she said North Texas takes one step closer to herd immunity and post-pandemic life.
This week, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said it will take 70 to 85% of the population being vaccinated for that to happen, which he hopes will happen by late summer or early fall.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.