Dr. Dan Reiser is an optometrist at Hanscom Air Force Base in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.
He received his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine last Thursday.
“I had zero reservations about getting the vaccine because I do believe in science,” he said.
Reiser is a 1982 graduate of Denison High School. He retired five years ago after 25 years in the Air Force.
He and his wife, Meghan, live in Sudbury, Massachusetts.
Today he works as a contractor providing services at Hanscom AFB.
“Because of my job as an optometrist, I get within about 20 inches of a person’s face when I use my slit lamp microscope,” Reiser said. “I’ve always been very concerned about the fact that I could potentially be exposed to COVID.”
Getting the first dose of the vaccine is just the beginning of the process, he said.
“I think with the second shot (about a month after the first), I think I will feel a little bit better, a little bit more at ease about my risk for exposure and for bringing it home because I will have developed some immunity to it,” Reiser said.
“I am probably going to be more exposed than my wife will be to COVID, just because of where I work. She works at home as a writer. I feel like this is something I should do for her and for my community to try to stop the transmission.”
Even after he receives the second dose he will still wear a mask, wash his hands and do all of the things needed to keep patients safe, he said.
“I don’t think life is really going to change for me post-vaccination, but I will have peace of mind that I got the shot and my risk for bringing it home will go down,” he said. “That will make me feel more comfortable.”
At the base clinic he would normally see active duty members and their dependents; from the beginning of the pandemic, an effort was made to reduce the number of people within the facility.
He currently treats only active duty personnel.
“Primarily it is active duty we’re seeing, at least in the eye clinic,” Reiser said.
“People are still working to become pilots, they still need physicals, people are still deploying, people are still getting a piece of metal in their eye that needs to be removed or people get pinkeye and they still need a treatment.”
All patients are screened for COVID before entering the building.
“We obviously don’t want to bring it in,” he said.
He wears an N95 mask; the clinic provides masks for patients who do not have one when they enter the facility.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, additional time has been allotted to cleaning and making sure the clinic provides a safe environment for patients.
As in Iowa, the first people in Massachusetts to get the vaccine were the healthcare workers on the front lines in hospitals, in the ICUs and emergency rooms, with COVID patients.
“Obviously that was the right way to go with that,” Reiser said. “In the clinic here we found out about a week ago that they were going to get the vaccine at Hanscom; they made it available to the active duty and to the civilians and contractors that work in the clinic.”
Reiser said he trusts the science behind the vaccines that are being provided to the public – and that some of the fears raised online are unfounded.
“The CDC has put out good information for us to read to understand that it does not affect our DNA, even though I’ve had some people say that it did,” he said. “We know that it does not alter your DNA.”
Reiser said the vaccines went through a very thorough review process.
“It had the same review applied, even though it was for emergency use, as any other FDA-approved product that comes to market,” he said. “It’s just that the timelines were different because it was basically ‘all hands on deck’ to get this out.”
Reiser said his son and all of his son’s medical school roommates at Boston University recently received COVID-19 vaccinations.
Some of the students had sore arms and other minor issues, but otherwise had good responses to the vaccine.
The reports of good responses to the vaccine should give members of the public confidence about the vaccine, he said.
Reiser said the people who say COVID is not real are wrong.
“We know that COVID is real and it is killing people,” he said.
Getting the vaccine can help save lives, Reiser said.