Staff Receives COVID-19 Vaccine

December 23, 2020

Community Hospital was excited to begin inoculating the first “doses of hope” of COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare staff on Tuesday. The allotment of vaccine arrived from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services just after lunch. Staff began receiving inoculations one and a half hours later.

“This is truly a memorable and exciting day,” said Sharon Conroy, RN, Infectious Control and Employee Health Nurse. “We are making history and are hoping this is the beginning of the end of COVID-19,” she added.

The first employee to receive the vaccine was Anthony Rodewald, Director of Pharmacy and Community Hospital’s vaccine coordinator. When asked why he was willing to get the vaccine, he said, “Because I’m tired of the restrictions and the quarantines and the ‘social distancing’ and everything else that comes with this pandemic. I’ve also seen the burden of the disease.

He continued, “So many people have fears over the vaccine. I get that. They don’t want to blindly put their trust in something they don’t understand. I respect that. But what isn’t fair is there is so much misinformation and outright fear-mongering and outlandish claims out there that many have decided they would rather risk disease than vaccination. This disease is real and has far more significant risks than the vaccine. Relatively, the vaccine is safe and it is effective and it can help us get back to the life that we remembered before the pandemic. I’m looking forward to that. That’s why I’m getting vaccinated,” he concluded.

Following his inoculation, Rodewald had the privilege of inoculating Conroy. Along with members of the hospital’s entire staff, both have served months fighting the COVID-19 battle. In answering the question why she is receiving the vaccine, Conroy said, “It’s not about me. We need to protect the people we come in contact with. I trust it and I think it’s a huge thing I can do for my community and the people I am around.”

The historical moment was not lost on staff. Their reasons for getting the vaccine included:

  • “It’s an important moment in history where we can stop a virus.”
  • “I am doing it to protect my sister who is a type 1 diabetic.”
  • “Anything we can do to stop the spread and protect the community.”
  • “Because I want to be protected. I feel the vaccine is safe. I want to continue to be able to take care of my patients.”
  • “As a front-line worker, I have seen the ugliness of the disease and want to do everything I can to protect the patients I serve.”
  • “To be part of working toward ending the virus. It’s great to be a part of the process.”
  • “I want to protect myself, my family and my community from long-term health detriments caused by COVID-19.”

While the Moderna vaccine received by Community Hospital came frozen, it did not require sub-zero freezer storage. Each vial needed to be thawed before use. Following this first dose of vaccine, employees will receive a second booster dose in a few weeks.

The public might have questions about when the vaccine will be available to other populations. According to a news release from the Southwest Nebraska Public Health department, “The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will be distributing the vaccines in phases, following federal guidelines for each phase. The first phase will prioritize those in the highest risk categories, including frontline healthcare workers and long-term care facilities. Frontline workers are most likely to come into contact with positive cases, and long-term care residents are most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19. A timeline for the public to receive the vaccine has not been determined at this time. Further information will become available with each phase when enough vaccine is available. For now, efforts are focused on vaccinating medical providers across the state so that they can continue to care for those in need.”

Hospital officials emphasized that individuals should not contact their medical provider at this time about their desire to receive the vaccine. There will be a general notification when the vaccine is available to high risk individuals in the public as well as the public in general.