Simpson community with pre-existing conditions receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine


Paige O'Connor

Student Sophie Reese receives her first dose.

by Jake Brend, Sports Editor

In partnership with the Hyvee Pharmacy, Simpson College Health Services was able to offer roughly 115 of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to students, staff and faculty with underlying conditions that are 18 years of age or older on March 19. 

In order to qualify, individuals must have had one or m

ore of the following pre-existing conditions as listed by the CDC:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking
  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m2, but < 30 kg/m2)
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus or Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

For Katie Lee, the Director of Health Services, the opportunity to offer the first dose of vaccinations to a large number of individuals in the Simpson community was a breath of fresh air. 

Student Alexis Ponce receives her first dose. (Paige O’Connor)

“It was just so refreshing to be able to offer vaccines to the campus community,” Lee said. “We’re actually offering hope to people throughout this whole pandemic.”

Two students that were eligible for the vaccine were juniors Korie Torres and Faith Leonard, each explained the experience as little to no pain.

“I didn’t even feel the shot go in,” Leonard said. “I didn’t realize it was done until he told me.”

Torres didn’t have a completely painless experience at the moment, but a mild pain at worst.

“I felt a tiny little pinch and experienced some soreness, but besides that, not bad at all,” Torres said.

Despite painless experiences at the moment, each individual experienced different symptoms. Albeit similar side effects, most of it centered around soreness and exhaustion. 

“[The day I got the shot] it hurt to lift my arm halfway up, and I was exhausted,” Torres said. “I took a total of two naps, two hours each. It was terrible. But when I woke up, I was fine. I was absolutely fine, it was just that one day.”

Leonard has a much easier experience in the days following. 

“I felt fine for the first 24 hours, but then the next day, I woke up, and my arm was pretty sore,” she said. “I’m feeling great and fine, and I didn’t get the flu-like symptoms.”

For Leonard, her battle with anxiety has been magnified throughout the last year. However, the vaccine has brought a potential light at the end of the tunnel. 

“I have really bad anxiety and OCD with germophobia around sickness,” she explained. “Being able to start slowly getting back into society again and not worry as much has been really nice.”

Anyone who received their first dose will be available to get their second and final dose within the next few weeks. Even when they are fully vaccinated, the protocols put in place by Simpson will not be changed. 

“It’s important that people know that even though we’re getting vaccinated, we still need to wear masks and social distance and follow the guidelines from the CDC,” Lee said. 

Helena Laster receives first dose. (Jake Brend)

With protocols staying the same and numbers of positive cases decreasing on campus, locally and globally, Lee and others are hopeful for what the rest of 2021 might bring.

“It’s been a hard year, but we’ve made a lot of progress,” Lee said. “It gets me excited to think about what next fall will look like on this campus.” 

Simpson has yet to announce if they are planning on having any more COVID-19 vaccines given out on campus.