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The COVID-19 Vaccine: Making the Right Choice for You and Your Family

January 11, 2021

She was one of the first Hartford HealthCare providers to roll up a sleeve for a COVID-19 vaccine, hoping that if she showed her team she trusted and believed the science, they would, too.

Dr. Melisha Cumberland, chief of medicine at Windham Hospital, was also one of the first providers in the state to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after its approval by the Food and Drug Administration in December.

“I felt it was important to protect myself and show my colleagues that I believe in the science behind this vaccine,” Dr. Cumberland said. “I am now one step closer to being safe from the virus and that will allow me to safely care for patients with and without COVID.”

While she experienced only soreness at the injection site, she said she might feel more severe side effects after her second vaccine dose, but they should only last a day or two.

“Research indicates that some people experience mild side effect such as fatigue, headache and muscle aches after the second dose,” she said. “The data indicates the vaccine is safe. No serious long-term side effects have been documented, and any side effects that do occur are not severe.”

She touted the effectiveness rating of the Pfizer vaccine and the second vaccine approved by the FDA, by the pharmaceutical company Moderna. Both are approximately 95 percent effective against COVID-19, compared to the season flu vaccine which is typically 40 to 60 percent effective each year.

With more than 300,000 deaths nationally from COVID-19, Dr. Cumberland said everyone should consider getting the vaccine.

“The COVID-19 virus will likely become the world’s leading infectious disease killer in 2020, exceeding deaths from tuberculosis, malaria and HIV,” she said. “In order to stop its spread, we need much of the world’s population to be vaccinated. If we do not protect ourselves against the virus, we will continue to see these numbers climb.”

Without a large portion of the population vaccinated against the virus, she said the country can expect to continue wearing masks and physical distancing as protection.

“Historically, vaccines have often been a polarizing topic. These vaccines were created quickly and I think people may feel overwhelmed or confused as they read the headlines, scan the discussions on social media and talk to their family and friends,” Dr. Cumberland said of vaccine fears. “Ultimately, when the time comes to make the decision about whether or not to get the vaccine, each individual should make the choice that is right for themselves, their family and loved ones.”

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

If you’re 75 or older and wanted to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine, log into your MyChartPlus account and find a Hartford HealthCare vaccine clinic near you. If you don’t have a MyChartPlus account, set one up here.