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Healthcare workers receive second dose of COVID-19 vaccine as cases rise

As cases climb in Tampa Bay, doctors are happy to have immunity on their side as they continue to battle the pandemic 10 months later.

TAMPA, Fla. — As the vaccination process continues to roll out in Florida, some healthcare workers have officially received their second dose of the vaccine, and with it, immunity to the COVID-19 virus.

For frontline workers who have seen COVID-19 patients almost every day since the pandemic started, the second dose was celebrated.   

"It was almost an emotional moment. The idea that you've done this for nine months without protection, and now all of a sudden you have a vaccine is like a miracle," said Dr. John Sinnott, an infectious disease expert with USF Health and Tampa General Hospital.

He wasn't alone, Dr. Jason Wilson, the associate medical director for the Emergency Department at Tampa General Hospital, and an associate professor at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine felt the same. Dr. Wilson got his second dose on Monday. 

“Sunday night was like Christmas Eve," Dr. Wilson said. "And I was like a kid at Christmas, basically waiting for Monday morning to come on.”

The process was simple with minimal side effects the next day.

"My arm got a little sore. And then my neck ached a little bit. And then I noticed I had a headache as well," said Dr. Wilson describing the day after getting his second dose. 

But after three aspirin and a bit of sleep, Dr. Wilson was recovered by Wednesday and it could not have come at a better time as cases in Tampa Bay continue to climb. Thursday's numbers hit the latest single-day record with 19,816 new cases. 

“We have all seen someone get very sick and die from COVID. I mean, if you work in a hospital setting right now, you have seen that," Dr. Wilson said.

But now, there is hope. Not only for us that we'll be safe, and can treat patients safely, but keep our families safe. But then I think also more for society, just to recognize that this is a real turning point," he added.

As of Thursday afternoon, 369,622  Floridians have been vaccinated. Only 14,601 have gotten both doses of the vaccine. 

"Even though the light at the end of the tunnel is there. We're not out of the tunnel yet," Dr. Wilson said. "And we're at a place right now where the tunnel could get really long if we're not very careful right now."

Healthcare workers that have gotten their second dose will still have to wear proper PPE around the hospital as it is not known if the vaccine stops you from spreading the disease. 

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