Following the opening of COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Peoria County, the continuing rollout of the vaccines officially made its way to Bradley in the past few weeks — alongside side effects important to consider as finals week rolls around.
On April 5, all Illinois residents 16 and older in Peoria County became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Earlier prioritization was reserved for students in medical or childcare positions alongside frontline workers, and subsequently, people with medical conditions became eligible.
At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that while they were largely non-substantial, possible side effects from the vaccine ranged from mild to severe, consisting of experiences including swelling, pain, redness, fatigue, head or body aches and nausea.
“You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection,” the CDC website stated. “These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.”
Bradley issued an email to students on April 1 announcing the eligibility, in which the university stated that while they could schedule a vaccination in the surrounding area, Health Services did not have vaccines to administer directly on campus at the time.
On April 9, another email from the university announced that the Markin Center would host clinics for students to receive one of 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by appointment on April 12 and 13.
On both clinic dates, Bradley emailed students to inform them that vaccinations were also open to staff, faculty and family members over 18 years old, alongside those without appointments (referred to as “dose savers”) at a select time.
According to Health Services director Jessica Higgs, the ultimate turnout of the two days was administering 745 vaccine doses. The university’s email on April 13 added that 411 of the doses were delivered on the first day.
Higgs further addressed the vaccinations’ side effects, an increased area of public concern as they have increased in accessibility, particularly due to effects reported after second doses.
She stated that only two patients of the 745 doses required assistance in the first 15 minutes following administration and that both felt normal after an additional 15 minutes. She further said that a handful of students voiced complaints of effects including body aches after several days, but no cases required medical attention.
Higgs also assured that taking medication for the second dose’s side effects was recommended after receiving it, as the effects are to be expected.
“There is a rumor floating that you cannot take medication such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol with the vaccine,” Higgs said in an email interview. “There is no problem with taking Ibuprofen or Tylenol for the sore arm, body aches or fever that may accompany the shot. These are all normal immune reactions [which] means the vaccine is doing its job.”
As the Moderna vaccine issued by the Markin Center is a two-dose process, with 28 days required between each, dates for the second dose will coincide with finals week, and the email announced an ongoing effort to adjust vaccine scheduling. However, the email also advised students to be proactive and responsible about balancing both priorities.
“Please consider your final exam schedule when scheduling your second dose; you might want to consider getting it after your finals are complete,” the email said. “While important, a vaccination is not an excuse for missing or rescheduling a class or final exam.”
Even with the university’s recommendation, Higgs confirmed how Health Services would respond if cases of students becoming ill from side effects during finals did transpire.
“We will be very … happy to discuss any concerns any students, faculty and staff have with the timing of the vaccine and their ability to complete their finals and projects on time,” Higgs said.
For additional information about the vaccine, visit the Peoria City/County Health Department.