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Hopes for a virus-free future

Vaccinated Valley Streamers inch closer to freedom

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As of Monday, nearly 242,000 people in Nassau County had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to New York state figures. Free from the threat of dying of Covid-19, some in Valley Stream are switching up their lifestyles and are planning the future.

“I feel so free after taking the vaccine that I now go to small gatherings, indoor dining, and I even booked a trip to Hawaii in May because my fear is gone . . . I’m liberated,” said Katiuscia Gray, 45, a Valley Stream therapist.

As a health-care worker, Gray said, she was eligible to be vaccinated in January. While she had concerns about the vaccine’s safety, she booked her first appointment to serve as an example for her clients.

“The nurse and doctor at my vaccination site calmed my fears because they explained to me that taking the vaccine will lower my chances of getting super sick and dying if I get Covid,” Gray said.  “I’m very excited for more and more people to get vaccinated . . . I’m looking forward to seeing people smile again.”

After receiving her first shot of the Moderna vaccine, she felt minor soreness in her arm, but after her second shot, Gray said she felt mild flu-like symptoms, including a headache and hot and cold flashes, for about a week.

“I tell everyone that I can, that they should just get the vaccine. Push past those fears. Fear starts as fear and manifests into anxiety, which is irrational fear,” Gray said.

When Valley Stream couple Larry Fox, 78, and Ellen Ingber, 74, learned they were eligible to be vaccinated, they were excited, they said. Together, they received their Pfizer-BioNTech shots on Feb. 11 and on March 4 at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside.

Having lived through periods when other vaccines such as the polio, mumps and chickenpox vaccines became available, Fox and Ingber said they were not worried about the efficacy or safety of the coronavirus vaccines.

“We had absolutely no fears about the vaccine because we listened to Dr. Anthony Fauci and science. There was never a question of whether we would get the shot. As soon as we were eligible, we got it,” Ingber said.  

After the first dose, Fox said he experienced minor aches and pain, and both said they felt soreness in their arms, adding that they were also tired after the second dose. They’re already making plans.

“When the weather gets warmer, we’ll have dinner and trivia nights at our home, with 10 to 12 people over for dinner regularly, as long as everyone is vaccinated,” Fox said. 

“So far, all of our closest friends have been vaccinated, but if someone isn’t vaccinated, I will say hello to them from a distance. I don’t have fears, but we’re aware that the virus still exists,” Ingber said. 

With the announcement that starting March 23 people over 50 would be eligible for the vaccine, Valley Streamer Dr. Christian Akaeze, 54, said he immediately knew that he would like to get vaccinated. His wife, Dr. Nana Akaeze, 45, also hopes to be vaccinated when she is eligible. Both are professors at the University of the People, an online college.

“The hope of vaccines and being vaccinated brings long-awaited uncertainties to rest,” Christian said. “My family has been diligent with all the safety rules as guided by the experts for the past one year, and we have been dedicated to listening to credible news sources and listening to credible experts.”

“We’re looking forward to getting our life back with family and friends and gathering for sporting events with our children,” Nana said. “Going forward, people need to realize that becoming vaccinated will play an important role in this process of having our lives back as a country. In my view, getting a vaccine is all we could hope for as a family at this moment to feel secured from the virus.”