The first vaccinated health care workers in the Coachella Valley were able to receive their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Thursday.
News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with one anesthesiologist sharing his own experience and encouraging others to get vaccinated when possible.
“I got it this morning at 9:03 a.m. Again, I’m very excited about it,” said Dr. Arun Thunga, Anesthesiologist, Desert Regional Medical Center.
Dr. Thunga was one of the first five people in the Coachella Valley to get the Pfizer vaccine three weeks ago. On Thursday morning, he received his second and final dose.
“I don’t even feel like I had a shot right now,” he said. “The last shot...I have to say after about 10-12 hours...I was a little sore.”
Aside from the slight soreness in his arm, Dr. Thunga says he had no other side effects. “I didn’t feel any fatigue.”
And for him personally, he says getting vaccinated was an easy choice: “We have a six times higher chance of getting COVID when we’re intubating patients.”
As the Chair of Anesthesia, he says he also wanted to set an example. “I just felt like I had to be up there and show it’s perfectly safe,” he said.
Earlier this week, the county reported that only about 50% of healthcare workers have chosen to get vaccinated so far -- something county representatives and Dr. Thunga expect will change with time and education.
“With any new vaccine there’s going to be concern...that’s certainly understandable. So we want to explain all of the process that has gone into the safety of this vaccine and its effectiveness,” said Brooke Federico, public information officer, Riverside County.
“As people see more people taking it and feeling good about it, more and more people will step up,” said Dr. Thunga.
Dr. Thunga added that for him and many hardworking physicians exhausted from the fight against COVID, the vaccine has provided a glimmer of hope.
“Don’t be scared, this is our best bet," he said.