By the end of the month, Ohio’s school teachers will start to receive the second of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, but increased symptoms could force many educators out of the classroom for a day or two.
Some Butler County school districts are putting plans in place to avoid that issue.
“When we talk about doing the second shot, we don’t need to enter things with fear,” said Dr. Andre Harris, chief medical officer and vice president of operations at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown. “What’s been the most grabbing with this, we know there is a good portion of people that will have some symptoms behind the second vaccination.”
Between 55 and 83 percent of those people who receive the second vaccination shot of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines ― which require two doses separated by multiple weeks ― have experienced common symptoms like fever, chills, headaches, and/or joint and muscle aches.
However, as fast as the side effects come on, they quickly disappear, Harris said. About 12 to 13 hours after Harris received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, he said he started getting chills and later developed a headache.
“I knew exactly what was going on so I took some ibuprofen at that time and by the time I woke up later on that morning I didn’t have any problems with chills. I had a little bit of a headache ... a little fatigue,” he said.
Harris said his side effects lasted about 24 hours, but some have reported side effects lasting one to three days.
Some area districts are trying to avoid a similar issue that happened in the Fairless Local Schools in northeast Ohio. The district canceled classes due because of the side effects educators experienced, according to Fox 8 News.
Middletown City Schools and Lakota Local Schools will adjust their schedules to accommodate the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine’s second dose.
“We switched the date of our second shot to Friday, Feb. 26 ― the original date was Wednesday, Feb. 24. We typically have a remote day for all students on Wednesday, so we moved that remote date to Friday,” said Middletown Schools spokeswoman Elizabeth Beadle.
Lakota Schools spokeswoman Betsy Fuller said though the first dose had “very little impact” on the staff, “we are concerned about the side effects that could result.”
“Because of this concern, along with the substitute shortage we have been dealing with this year, we will shift to remote learning on Feb. 25 and 26, the two days following our next vaccination clinic,” she said.
As of Thursday, more than 1.16 million Ohioans have started the inoculation process, which represents nearly 10 percent of the state. Nearly 374,400 have completed the two-dose regimen of the COVID-19 vaccination, which represents 3.2 percent of the state.
In Butler County, 9,040 people have received both vaccine doses of the 33,512 that have started the inoculation process.
Harris does caution people experiencing side effects of the second dose from pre-medicating. He said people should wait until symptoms show before taking medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
“One of the concepts is you want to let your immune systems have the response it’s supposed to have with getting this new vaccine in your system, so you can have a robust response to it,” Harris said.
Facts and figures
- Of the 1.16 million Ohioans that have started the vaccination process, 33,512 reside in Butler County, 23,048 reside in Warren County and 83,619 reside in Hamilton County.
- 374,380 people have completed the two-dose regimen of the COVID-19 vaccination, which represents 3.2 percent of the state. That includes 9,040 in Butler County, 7,655 in Warren County and 26,841 in Hamilton County.
Journal-News is a news partner of WCPO 9.