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'I want people to see that, hey, I'm OK' | A week after vaccination, one of DC's 'First Five' reports no ill effects

Lt. Keishea Jackson says she hopes others will follow her example and get the coronavirus vaccine once it's available.

WASHINGTON — “What was it like to finally get the shot?” Lt. Keishea Jackson said. “It was so many feelings. I was apprehensive. Not really scared. At the end of it was definitely relief.”

Jackson, an 18-year veteran of DC Fire & EMS, was one of the so-called “First Five” members of the department who volunteered to publicly receive some of the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine in the District. She received the first of two shots last Thursday.

RELATED: DC firefighter on volunteering to get vaccine: It's 'people who look like me' who are dying

Prior to getting vaccinated, Jackson admitted in a press conference she had been unsure about it – even considering waiting a year. But she decided to push forward, largely because she is also the primary caregiver for her father.

“I know over these past few months he has not been able to do anything, because I have kept him in the house,” Jackson said. “And dealing with his health issues… I know he’s been really scared of contracting the virus from me. He knows that I do everything to protect him, but I know that it’s been a struggle. I wanted to show him and everybody else that this is safe and we need to make a change to get this thing under control.”

Jackson sat down for an interview with WUSA9 to mark one week after getting the shot. It’s part of her ongoing commitment to encourage others to do the same.

“I said I would be very open and transparent when I got the vaccination just so people would know,” Jackson said. “Have I had any side effects? The only side effect that I’ve had is a sore arm for two days, and it was just at the site. It reminded me of getting the flu shot.”

In the week since, Jackson says she’s received messages of support from people who say seeing her get the shot has helped assuaged their own worries.

“I got a message from a teacher and she was telling me that, whether I knew it or not, that her students and her and officials in her state were very happy to see me get the vaccination,” Jackson said. “She said whether I knew it or not that I saved a lot of lives. That actually brought me to tears. I got another message saying that I was a ‘shero.’ Just to know that’s how people were viewing me… it’s not what I planned, but to hear it makes you go even further. Family reached out that didn’t even realize that I was still a firefighter, ‘We saw you. We’re so happy for you. I’m getting the vaccination because of you.’”

And while it may still be a way before the general public gets access to the vaccine, Jackson said she encourages people to get the shot when it’s available to them.

“Continue to read, do your own research, make the choice. I am fine. I feel fine. And actually through all this I am looking forward to January 6, which is my next vaccination. I’m really looking forward,” Jackson said. “I’m just praying and hope that as our people see the public getting the vaccination over and over again, and as these numbers grow, that everybody will start to join in.

“We’ve got to bring back… it’ll never be normal, but we’ve got to bring back some type of normalcy,” she continued. “Our babies are suffering. They’re not in school. We’re trying to get our kids back. We’re trying to get our lives back. Back to the sunshine. Our families are suffering. So I just want people to see that, hey, I’m OK. I just want everybody to jump onboard. We need this. We definitely need this.”

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