READING, Pa. - The Berks County EMS COVID-19 Joint Task Force is trying to quell concerns among first responders about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Phil Salamone, a spokesman for the task force, described his symptoms from the Moderna vaccine as mild.

"I was cold and I just felt like I had swam (sic) a marathon," said Salamone, adding that he was back to feeling like himself within a day or two of getting the shot.

Salamone said he is hoping that, by sharing his symptoms, he can alleviate the hesitation surrounding the shot.

"There is no possibility that we will be able to achieve any level of herd immunity if there is a significant percentage of the population that is unwilling to get the vaccine," he said.

Dr. Duane Siberski, an emergency physician at St. Joseph Medical Center in Bern Township, said the patients he diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday were very ill.

"All of them were admitted to the hospital," he said. "I hope all of them survive."

With any vaccine, he said there is a range of symptoms. Those who receive the COVID-19 vaccine are observed for about 15 minutes afterward. If they have a severe reaction, they'll be treated immediately, but he said those cases are rare.

Another big concern people have is about how quickly the vaccine came out. To that, Salamone said the science is sound.

"It's been tested through the exact same scientific process that any other medication would have went through," he said.

The task force is urging EMS workers to do their research and get their shots, because while it protects them, the virus can still be spread by those who've been vaccinated.

Siberski said it's important to get the current eligible group vaccinated as much as possible and move on to the next category.

"Let's get this done," he said. "Let's get vaccinated. Let's move forward."

If you have questions or concerns, the task force said the best place to go is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website, and you're encouraged to use your primary care doctor as a resource, because your doctor can tailor safety information and risk factors specifically to you.

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