By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – Noelle Ziemins felt like for the first time in about nine months she could take a deep breath and fully exhale last Wednesday.
The Family Nurse Practitioner and Chief of Urgent Care at Cornerstone Family Healthcare had just received one of the initial, 1800, phase one doses of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine shots her facility recently secured. For Ziemins, who has seen firsthand the virus wreak havoc, creating immeasurable stress and uncertainty amongst her patients, the exciting moment of getting the vaccine was emotionally charged and priceless.
“I feel like a huge weight has come off of my shoulders,” said a smiling Ziemins, who proudly displayed the exact side bicep marking of her momentous shot. “I can now see loved ones without having to feel scared; I feel very safe getting this shot, as it’s a lot better than even the idea of getting COVID.”
Sharing similar sentiments with Ziemins were two other staff members: Dr. Alban Burke, Chief of Dentistry at Cornerstone Family Healthcare, along with Enrique Bullon, a Medical Interpreter at Cornerstone, among the very first on the staff to be vaccinated. In total, 60 Cornerstone members were given the vaccine, whose studies have revealed it to be 94.5% effective combating COVID with a two dose injection (three weeks apart), last Wednesday.
Authorized by the FDA, it was officially approved on December 18, 2020, making all at Cornerstone extremely grateful to be among its recipients’ early rollout to be administered to high–risk, exposed hospital workers.
The positive energy and optimistic vibes of the day were not only apparent in the recipients of the symbolic, groundbreaking shots, but also in the nurse, Nicole Harris, who was assigned the integral role of applying them to her co-workers.
“I’m very excited to be able to vaccinate the staff here and eventually the general population,” said the LPN Harris. “Giving it to others makes me feel more positive about having some control over this Pandemic, and it eventually getting better. That sharp turn toward better days was also expressed by Bullon, who was the first of the three to receive the Moderna vaccine. Energized by the prospect of all of its pending benefits and looking forward to “getting the shot over with,” after all of its buildup, Bullon, like Ziemens, felt a huge sense of relief and optimism once his vaccine was completed.
“Today is very special; there are so many out there suffering, so it is very important to protect myself as well as others, especially those most vulnerable,” said Bullon, who is most looking forward to soon being able to safely and confidently see his family. “It’s most important that everyone is safe, and we can all be fine and together once again.”
For Bullon, who is Peruvian, it’s also critical that his successfully getting the shot (void of any side effects) serves as a model to those in his Latin community who are skeptical of its effectiveness and safety.”
“Many in the Hispanic community don’t understand what’s happening with this virus,” said Bullon. “I hope I’m able to inspire others by their seeing that I am okay with having had it.”
Burke, who is African-American and well aware of the hesitation among that population, also hopes to lay to rest some of the fears and questions many possess about the two, new vaccines presently being used to stop this still unpredictable, debilitating and deadly virus in its tracks.
“There is a lot of misunderstanding out there, especially with populations of color, and there is good reason,” said Burke. “However, this is something that can help them, and I would truly advise for those in doubt to take a second look, do the due diligence and really consider it.”