Teachers grateful to receive vaccination, experience varied effects


Christy Gerst

Teachers began getting vaccinations on Jan. 31.

Meena Lee, Content Manager

As of March 1, Laboratory Schools faculty and staff have received their COVID-19 vaccinations from University of Chicago Medicine. Teachers feel grateful that they were able to be vaccinated, despite some experiencing flu-like side effects. 

Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout plan, which includes K-12 educators, was initiated Jan. 25, and teachers were able to sign up for times to get vaccinated at the University of Chicago Medical Center. 

When math teacher Joseph Scroll found out he was getting vaccinated, he felt relieved and was glad that his family could be safe. 

“I think to most people the vaccine really represents the end of all this,” Mr. Scroll said. “So, I was really just excited. It has obviously been wearing on all of us for the last year, going to sleep every day and not knowing if you’re going to be OK.”

According to history teacher Christy Gerst, the vaccination process at the university hospital was well-organized and efficient. Two vaccine clinics were set up where employees signed patients in and checked their health information, Ms. Gerst said.  

“Once you sit down for the shot, it’s a couple of minutes,” Ms. Gerst said. “Then you remain 15 minutes for observation to protect against the allergic reactions that are being recorded, and that is it.” 

P.E. teacher Deborah Ribbens encountered more trouble with her first vaccination. After waiting the 15 minutes allocated for observation after her shot, she said she felt extremely dizzy and faint, which is an uncommon reaction to the vaccine. 

“They took me into an observation room to lay down,” Ms. Ribbens said. “Apparently, my blood pressure, which is always very normal, shot up very high.”

After two hours, Ms. Ribbens felt well enough to leave the hospital. Ms. Ribbens said the unusual reaction made her nervous to get her second dose. 

Ultimately, she had the regular symptoms associated with the second vaccination. 

“It just felt like I had the flu and I had the chills,” Ms. Ribbens said. “My brain was in a fog and I felt extremely tired.”

Ms. Gerst also experienced side effects with her second vaccination. She said she had symptoms that according to the CDC, were to be expected, such as chills, fever, nausea and aches that lasted about 24 hours. These symptoms made it hard for Ms. Gerst to actively participate in class the next day. Instead, she gave her students the period to work on their group projects. 

“Every single one of my days is crazy busy, and I sort of expected that I would push through, no matter what,” Ms. Gerst said. “I had a lot of things going on, but I wasn’t able to with the chills.”

Mr. Scroll, on the other hand, experienced no symptoms and noted that many of his colleagues also had no symptoms.

Ms. Ribbens said that despite being vaccinated, she is still somewhat worried about the new variants of the virus. However, Ms. Ribbens is still very grateful for the vaccine.

“I feel very privileged to be part of the U. of C.,” Ms. Ribbens said. “Some people in other places have to wait in line for hours and hours, but we could just go right in.”