Athens Limestone Hospital employees receive coronavirus vaccinations

In Limestone County, health care workers rolled up their sleeves.

Posted: Dec 15, 2020 6:01 PM
Updated: Dec 15, 2020 7:28 PM

Tuesday was the day thousands of people have been anticipating since the pandemic began.

Across the country, a mass vaccination effort is underway. North Alabama was no exception. In Limestone County, health care workers rolled up their sleeves.

Since March, Dr. Hanserd has been waiting for this moment.

"There's a lot of sense of relief," Hanserd said.

He received the first dose of Pfizer's vaccine Tuesday at Athens Limestone Hospital. Nearly 2,000 of the doses were shipped to the hospital this week.

"I know we have several hard months ahead of here at the hospital to take care of people with COVID, but I will say that after I got the vaccine, I felt very relieved," Hanserd said.

Those directly treating coronavirus patients will receive the vaccine first. Hanserd has been in charge of the coronavirus response team. He said he is hopeful this will help relieve the staffing issues they have been experiencing.

"We'll end up working for just several, several weeks on end, and with as many patients as we're seeing, that's just not something that is good for anybody," Hanserd said.

Athens Limestone Hospital is one of the first hospitals to receive a shipment of vaccines. That is because it has freezer capability.

The Chief Nursing Officer and Interim Hospital President Traci Collins said more than 50% of their employees said they would get vaccinated.

"Seeing that they're willing to get it and be the first one in line, it gives me comfort and it lets me know, hey, these guys are super smart, they study science, they study research and if they think it's safe for them, they are not going to do anything to jeopardize themselves that would be detrimental to them, so I honestly trust them with my life," Collins said.

For Hanserd, he said while this has been an expedited process, he trusts the science.

"Once it gets FDA approval, having it in hospitals in two days, and then, having it in people's arms 24 hours after that, that's quite the process," Hanserd said. "I can't take away from any of that. I mean, there are so many people that are working on this that aren't me, that aren't frontline health care workers, and we're thankful for all those people."

Some of the vaccine trials were done across from the hospital. Dr. Hanserd called those who participated, the real heroes.

In the next few days, Athens Limestone Hospital will set up a mobile unit to administer the vaccines to Decatur-Morgan and Helen Keller employees.

All of these hospitals are part of the Huntsville Hospital System.

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