First coronavirus vaccine administered at Huntsville Hospital

The first Huntsville Hospital employee to be administered the vaccine, Dr. Jeffrey Walker, said it was very exciting.

Posted: Dec 16, 2020 7:38 PM
Updated: Dec 16, 2020 7:54 PM

Wednesday morning, the first Huntsville Hospital employee was administered the coronavirus vaccine.

You could almost feel the relief among the hospital staff in the room. Right after the first vaccine was administered, the room erupted in applause.

"Everyone's very excited. I know all the staff that I've spoken to are excited about getting vaccinated," said Dr. Jeffrey Walker, Huntsville Hospital trauma surgeon.

"I think as nurses and doctors, we are leaders of the community. And we are glad to show the community that this is what we need to be doing," said Rachel Morris, registered nurse at Huntsville Hospital.

Morris was administered the vaccine just seconds after Dr. Walker. She says that everyone has the right to do what they want.

"But in the medical community, we believe, I believe in medicine. This is what I think is best for myself," said Morris.

Dr. Sherrie Squyers says getting the vaccine was like getting a flu shot.

"It hurt just a little bit, but not more than you would expect from a normal vaccination," said Dr. Sherrie Squyers, Medical Director of Huntsville Hospital's Emergency Department.

Huntsville Hospital plans to vaccinate around 200 of their employees on Wednesday. They need to stagger frontline workers from receiving the vaccine, though, so not everyone from one shift gets vaccinated on the same day. That's in case there are any reactions to the vaccine.

Squyers has seen the impact of the pandemic firsthand.

"We see in the emergency department, we see people coming to us that are sick from this thing. They're having trouble breathing, they can only say a few words at a time, some of them have to be intubated right away because they're in so much respiratory distress," said Dr. Squyers.

Hospital employees hope that as more people get vaccinated, the mortality rate will go down.

"Well, hopefully, we can roll it through the hospital staff and get elderly populations vaccinated as soon as possible and that will hopefully cut down on mortality," said Dr. Walker.

The hospital's goal is to vaccinate frontline employees over the next two weeks.

"And then hopefully, you know, a lot more of the people out practicing in the community, nursing homes and those people that are first. And then, there's a tiered system that's been determined not by us but by the state and the people who give us the vaccines," said Dr. Squyers.

Huntsville Hospital says they are getting some indication they will get more vaccines at the end of this year or the beginning of 2021.

Hospital employees that received the vaccine on Wednesday will be administered the second dose in three weeks. The state of Alabama is holding those doses for Huntsville Hospital. The hospital just needs to order them.

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