Interview: Local ICU nurse shares her perspective on vaccination efforts

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Hundreds of local health care workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19 over the past two days.

“It was the first time I’ve seen my coworkers smile in a long time,” said Heather Donaldson, an UCU nurse at UC Davis Medical Center.

Donaldson has experienced the pandemic from the front lines, but after months of treating the sickest patients in the ICU, she said there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

“It was a huge spark of joy in the middle of a dark period of time,” she told FOX40.

Just hours after nearly 25,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived at UC Davis Medical Center Tuesday, Donaldson had the honor of giving the first shot to one of her coworkers — before getting vaccinated herself.

“I just have a tiny little bit of a sore arm or localized injection site pain, and other than that, I’m not experiencing any side effects at all,” she reported. “I also gave it to my husband, who is a respiratory therapist, and he went skiing today, so I guess you know how he’s feeling.”

In 21 days, they will both have to get another dose of the vaccine, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to let their guards down.

“You are expected to have 95% immunity after the second dose, but people still have to wear masks and be diligent about the public health recommendations because that still means 1 in 20 people who are vaccinated could get this,” Donaldson explained.

Health officials estimate 70-75% of people must get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

For those skeptical of the vaccine, Donaldson said, “I think that it’s much better than putting yourself at risk of contracting COVID-19.”

“I’ve put many bodies in bags this year and had horrible, sad stories in the ICU,” she continued. “And I would hate for somebody to not get the vaccine and contract COVID-19 and be in that situation.”

Donaldson also talked about the surge of patients she’s seeing at the UC Davis Medical Center now.

She said resources are spread thin, and many health care workers who don’t normally treat COVID-19 patients are now putting themselves at risk to take care of people with the virus.

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