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TJ Faces Pfizer

Posted 04/23/2021 by Aviva Freedberg

Close up shot of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine. photo by Dado Ruvic

Most members of the TJHS faculty and staff have received their vaccine.

It has become a time when people of all ages and backgrounds are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Many teachers and school staff throughout the world are able to receive the vaccine, and, luckily, Thomas Jefferson’s staff is a part of this group. Most of the TJ staff got to receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in February 2021 and then their second dose in mid-March. 

Assistant principal and leadership teacher Jon Poole stated that after he received his first dose of the vaccine on Tuesday, February 2nd, he felt “fine” and had “no effects to speak of.” Poole has received his second dose too, yet he did not have very serious effects. Poole only felt “tired and a little sore, or achy the day after receiving the second dose.” 

Similar to Poole, Nelson Vore, the AP Physics teacher, said he felt “fine” and the only effect he felt was a sore arm for 24 hours. Contrastingly, Dana Starbuck, math teacher, who received her vaccine on February 20th, said she was “completely scared and nervous” to get the vaccine because she has a phobia of needles, but she believes getting the vaccine is “worth the anguish.” Starbuck received her second dose on Monday, March 15th, and luckily had no side effects besides a sore arm, although many of her friends had flu-like symptoms. Since Starbuck hates needles, she believes the “anxiety of the needle is worse than the shot itself.”

Lisa Freedberg, the ceramics teacher at TJ, had a completely different experience compared to both Poole and Starbuck. Freedberg was supposed to receive the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Saturday, March 13th, but her appointment was pushed back to Monday the 15th due to the winter snow storm. Freedberg said, “Twelve hours after receiving the dose, I woke up with a very bad headache.” She also had joint and muscle pain that lasted over a day, and her headache was “intense” for 24 hours. On Tuesday, March 16th, Freedberg had to take a sick day, and on Wednesday, March 17th, she felt a little better, but not enough to work at school, so she worked from her home office. Freedberg has started to feel a little better, but not 100% just yet, but she believes all the pain will be worth it.

English teacher Jason Sheehan received the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday, March 3rd. Sheehan stated that, conflicting with his experience with the first shot, after his second shot he felt “very tired and fatigued” for about a day, along with sore muscles and a headache. Sheehan did not mind the pain because to him “it was worth it.”

Although each experience with the Pfizer vaccine is unique, it is safe to say that most members of the TJ staff are thankful that they had the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

According to Principal Mike Christoff, since most of the TJHS community is vaccinated, TJ does not need “to quarantine a teacher when or if there is a positive student case in their class” as opposed to before teachers were receiving the vaccine, when “if a student tested positive every teacher that they had within two days would have to quarantine.”

Looking ahead to the fall of 2021, Christoff’s hope is to have “7 classes a day, 5 days a week,” meaning that TJ would return back to normal. Christoff believes that TJ will “still have to wear masks and try to practice some form of social distancing.” While most students are eager to return to normal school, DPS has offered an online program for students that would like to keep doing online classes, but this program will be offered through Denver Online High School rather than TJHS. Christoff is hopeful that the current plan for the 2021-2022 school year will hold, but there is the possibility that some things could change before the fall.