Vaccine Side Effects Hit Some Teachers Harder Than Others


A patient recieves the same Johnson and Johnson vaccine as most SPS teachers, many of whom experienced side effects like fever and headache.

Jena Spezzano and Kaitlyn Pepa

For the past few months Stamford Public School teachers have been wondering when they were going to receive their Covid-19 vaccine. With elementary and middle schools reopening full time it was necessary to vaccinate all teachers. The city began the process of vaccinating elementary and middle school teachers on Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7. 

Most teachers received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which is a newer vaccine and requires only one shot instead of two. The superintendent had to make Monday, March 8 a distance learning day for middle and elementary school teachers because many teachers had a negative reaction to the vaccine. Then in the following week, on March 13 and 14, high school teachers were able to go and get their Covid vaccines. Monday March 15 was made a virtual day for all high schools in Stamford due to the anticipated negative reaction from the vaccine. Indeed, many teachers reportedly felt very sick after receiving the vaccine. 

The elementary school teachers were fortunate enough to receive their vaccine before any other teachers. A Hart School elementary school teacher, Susan Christiano, got the Johsnson and Johnson vaccine and said she had a headache and chills. She said that it lasted for around 30 hours and then she started to feel better.

“I am relieved that I am vaccinated. I had Covid in november and spent 10 days in bed. I feel fortunate that I was able to get the vaccine and I would urge everyone to get it,” said Christiano. Many teachers experienced a sore arm, fevers, headaches, chills and felt very tired for up to two days. 

William Margiotta, a fifth-grade teacher at Davenport Elementary School, said, “The side effects mainly occurred later on through the day. My arms and legs became achy, I got the chills, and I had a mild headache that lasted for two to three hours. The next morning I was tired, but the major side effects were gone by then.”

Margiotta added that he was eager for schools to fully reopen. “Doing school online is just different from full on person-learning. Planning for lessons is different, technology, passwords, and more. Dealing with technology just takes away from lessons, and I’d much rather have a full class of 20 kids,” he said.

Jeanette Christian, a teacher at Northeast Elementary school, was lucky enough to not have any side effects from the vaccine. She still recommends people getting it and says, “it will be worth it if we can all get back to normal life”. Now that the elementary schools are open full time, hopefully every teacher that wants to get vaccinated is able to or gets the chance to and hopefully everything stays safe.

The following week high school teachers were able to receive their vaccines. Kristen Amon, a Stamford High School science teacher described which side effects impacted her. “All of them,” she said.  “Fever, achey, headache, chills and a stomach ache.” Amon added,, “if people are to ask me if I think it was worth it, then I would say yes.” 

Even after hearing about the elementary school teachers’ reactions, most high school teachers still booked dates for their vaccination. If high schools are actually going to open full time it would be beneficial for any teacher who wants the vaccine to get it. Another stamford high teacher, English teacher Robert Lutz, got the Moderna vaccine. He so far has only gotten one of the two shots and said the only side effect that he has had was a sore arm. Lutz said, “my wife, who is a teacher too, couldn’t lift her arm and had a really bad headache.”


Editors’ Note:  This story was updated with additional quotes on April 12, 2021.

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