COVID Vaccine Diaries: 3 Chicago area healthcare workers share their experiences

ByChristine Tressel, Barb Markoff and the ABC7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
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Three Chicago area health care workers share their experiences getting the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and the aftermath.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the first round of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are distributed to health care workers on the front lines, three are sharing their experience with ABC7 Eyewitness News.

Dr. Sharon Robinson is a pediatrician with the NorthShore University HealthSystem where she also serves as a Physician Director of Primary Care. She lives just outside Chicago with her husband and her two daughters.

Dr. Tara Henderson is the Interim Chief, Section of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation University of Chicago Medicine. Director, Childhood, Adolescent and Young Adult Survivorship Center. She has a particular interest in the care of childhood cancer survivors.

Billy Kneitz, RN is an emergency room nurse at Rush University Medical Center and has been for the last 20 years. He has a passion for helping people in a time of crisis and said the past year "has been, like many others in health care, the most challenging of my career." He is a single father to "a great 19-year-old son."

January 5

Dr. Henderson received her second round of the Pfizer vaccine at the University of Chicago Medicine campus on Tuesday January 5th.

The pediatric cancer doctor had no issues with the first shot and said she is excited to get next and final dose.

Henderson is encouraging other healthcare workers who might still be hesitant to get the vaccine -- to get in line.

December 22

Dr. Robinson is still doing well. She has been inundated with questions from parents who want to know more about the vaccine and if/when they should consider this for their children. She has more insight into the vaccine research now underway.

Despite having a history with allergies, Dr. Henderson says she has done remarkably well after receiving the vaccine.

She also has some insight to share about the University of Chicago Medicine and its role as vaccine site for the surrounding community.

Billy Kneitz continues to do well and is busy in the Rush ER - the amount of COVID patients fluctuates, with new patients coming in waves.

Kneitz says he's been answering lots of questions from healthcare workers from other parts of the country who want to know what it was like to get the vaccine.

December 21

Dr. Robinson received her vaccine on Thursday December 17, 2020 at Evanston Hospital, NorthShore University HealthSystem. She was so happy and relieved the day had finally come. Twenty-four hours after the shot she was feeling good, just a little soreness at the vaccine site and a little lightheaded at lunchtime but that didn't last long.

On Saturday she was feeling so good; she had a wonderful workout at home.

Dr. Robinson has a special message for anyone doubting the vaccine's safety, especially those in Black and Brown communities.

Dr. Henderson had her first round of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine on Friday December 18, 2020 at the University of Chicago Medical Center where she was able to document her excitement throughout the process.

She had some slight soreness at the injection site but said the greatest effect she's experiencing is a "lightness in her step" and the feeling of being safer.

Dr. Henderson is looking forward to life returning to the way it was, including having the ability to hug again.

Rush ER nurse Billy Kneitz was one of the first healthcare workers at the hospital to get the vaccine on Thursday December 17, 2020.

Soon after he was back in the ER, where COVID patients are still coming through. Right after getting the shot he felt fine, but the following day he did experience something that surprised him. It didn't last long and he never missed a beat.

Kneitz said we still have a ways to go with the virus, but he is hopeful this vaccine is the beginning of the end.

Like so many people, he misses what makes life so much fun.