Welcome to the United Church of Sun City 

Greetings from your Parish Nurse!

I have a hard time believing we are in February already! February, as you know, is Heart Month. And we are kicking it off right with a CPR class on Monday, February 5th here in the Beehive. There is a sign-up sheet in the back of the sanctuary and we need a minimum of 10 people in the class. Come join in and learn the basics of CPR and first aid, and train and practice with an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator.) These defibrillators save lives when they are used promptly. They are currently available in most social gathering places—recreation centers, airports, schools, and churches. The defibrillators are programmed to give a shock and restart the heart if it has stopped. The unit gives verbal cues and walks you through each step of the process. But they are only effective if someone is able to use it correctly. So, come and learn how to use it! It’s not hard and it could save a life. (There is a $25.00 fee for the class.  Scholarships are available, contact the church office). 

But we are not stopping there. On Tuesday, February 13 at 10:30 am, Sun Health is coming to do a cooking demonstration with some ideas for healthier eating. We not only get to learn about it, but we also get to sample the dishes. Tired of having the “same old thing” every week? Come and experience some new ideas and new tastes. This class will be limited to 20 participants, so sign up soon!

February is also the month of Love. We think of Valentines Day and a chance to express our love and appreciation to someone close to us. Take the opportunity to tell someone you love how much you appreciate them. This is good not only for them to hear, but for you to express. And, if you don’t have someone special in your life right now, take some time to treat yourself to something special this month. Maybe it’s a book you’ve been wanting to read, or a restaurant you have wanted to try. Maybe it’s just a day to turn off your TV and phone and enjoy the quiet. Or, take a walk and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Whatever it is, take some time to nurture and love yourself in this month of Love.

Journeying to health,
Lisa Dunbar,
Parish Nurse

Dispelling Some of the Information About the COVID-19 Vaccine

As a Parish Nurse, the pandemic of COVID-19 has certainly brought many challenges in focusing on the health of our congregation. Currently, the challenge is to help our congregation members to understand, to make an educated decision, and to receive the vaccination.

I have found that the first hurdle is in educating our congregation. I have been able to put short articles in the church newsletter, and to send an all-church email that gave information about the vaccine. It focused on dispelling some of the misinformation being disseminated on the web.

For instance:

Concerns have been expressed about the vaccine being developed so quickly. Is it safe?
Although we don’t have years of research, the companies developing the vaccines tested it on the usual number of people that they have tested before with any new drug or vaccine. The difference in the timing is because much of the governmental bureaucracy that slows down the process after the test is finished was mitigated. The testing itself was still completed in a manner similar to other vaccines. As with any new treatment, vaccine or drug, there are potential side effects, but for the vast majority of recipients, the benefit far outweighs the risk.

I have heard about people reacting to the vaccine and becoming very ill, or even dying. Is this true? 
As with anything that we put into our body, we run a risk of being allergic to a substance in the medication or vaccine. At times, this may be a severe reaction called anaphylactic shock. In this case, the allergy may cause the body to swell tissues especially of the neck and trachea that may result in shortness of breath, a racing heart, and at its worse, a cardiac arrest. This is the reason that any recipient of the vaccine is required to remain at the site for 30 minutes after the injection as this is the time period where an anaphylactic reaction would take place. Each site is equipped with medical personnel and supplies to deal with this type of allergic reaction.

This happens very, very rarely. The current numbers are 11 reactions like this in 1 million recipients. These reactions may also occur after an influenza vaccination injection at a slightly lower rate. Although very serious for the 11, the 999,989 other recipients had no serious problems. A recipient of the vaccine may commonly have minor symptoms – a sore arm, muscle or joint pain, a low grade fever – similar to symptoms following other vaccinations. These are from an inflammatory response our body produces after a foreign substance has been introduced and usually only lasts 24-48 hours.

I have heard this vaccine may change my DNA. Is that true?
There is nothing in the vaccine to change our DNA. This vaccine is a new technology. In the past, vaccinations have carried in them a weakened amount of virus, which immediately stimulated our bodies to make antibodies to fight off the infection, The new Covid 19 vaccine has no weakened virus in it. Instead, it carries a message to our RNA to watch for an identifying factor on the virus – in this case a “spike” on the virus body. When our body recognizes that factor, it then begins very rapidly producing antibodies to fight the virus.

So a recipient may in fact “have the virus” for a short time before the antibodies are produced. It fights the virus before serious symptoms develop so one does not become ill. But it does raise the question of whether someone who has been vaccinated may still “spread” the virus even though they may have no symptoms. Studies continue to focus on this question. This is why even after vaccination, we may be required to wear masks in public places where social distancing is not possible.

Are fetal cells used in the production of the vaccine?
Fetal cell lines from fetuses in the 1960s and 1970s continue to be used in much of the early testing of many of our vaccines and other drugs. These tissues are registered and reported as the testing takes place. But no recent fetal tissue has been used in developing the Moderna or Pfizer Vaccinations. Other vaccines, notably the one from Johnson and Johnson, do continue to use more recently harvested fetal tissue in their development. There may be other companies as well.

After educating our congregation, the next step has been to identify those who are most vulnerable and require help in registering for the vaccination.

I began to make phone calls on those over 75, and those with chronic illnesses. Many had family or friends who were working with them to register for an appointment and who were willing to transport them to the appointment.

However, some of our congregants did not have access to a computer or were not able to complete the process on their own. I was able to assist them over the phone, at times registering them as my “family members” (after all, we are a church family!). I also helped to arrange transportation for those needing assistance.

Finally, I have continued to follow up with those registering – reminding them to take their ID and insurance card, walking them through the process at the sites, and informing them of the possibility of minor discomfort after that could be treated with Tylenol. I also continue to remind everyone to continue their social distancing precautions, handwashing, and wearing a mask.

Some in our congregation have chosen to wait to receive the vaccine. Some because of concern of long-term effects of the vaccine, others wish to wait for the vaccines with only 1 injection. I continue to share information with them, and to support them as they continue to follow the social distancing precautions and choose to remain limited in their social activities.