CARBONDALE (WSIL) — Health officials in our region are reporting in on the arrival of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines and their efforts to quickly inoculate their frontline workers.
Southern Illinois Healthcare received its first shipment Wednesday and began administering the first doses early Thursday morning, giving healthcare workers on the front line a “shot of hope.”
“It’s a relief honestly because, we still have to gear up of course to go into the rooms, but I’m not as concern now about getting COVID, and definitely not as concerned about bringing it home to my family,” says Glenda Mills, SIH RN after just finishing the last shift with only her Personal Protection Equipment between her and COVID-19.
Mills is among the first employees in the SIH family of hospitals to receive the vaccine, she says it won’t really change how they conduct business right now, “Because we’re still going to be dealing with the COVID numbers and the patients that are incredibly sick.”
Southern Illinois Healthcare has face personnel shortages in past months as staff have either had the virus, or contact with a person testing positive for it, requiring quarantine. They say as more of the staff receives the vaccine, the less likely they are to continue experiencing shortages due to COVID.
“We’ve had plenty of workers that have been out sick who have had to stay home because of it, who have had to be hospitalized because of it,” says Mills. “So, that kind of removes some of that concern for us, and makes it a little easier to do our job everyday.”
She says she appreciates the historical significance of being among the first to receive the vaccine, something she and her children have talked about as this pandemic has cost some families, everything.
“We’ve had mothers, fathers and sons all up there at the same time and they did not make it home,” says Mills. “And that’s a little rough, and the kids know that one day it could have been me that ends up not coming home because of it; I wouldn’t be the first nurse, and I wouldn’t be the last, so this is a big deal.”
Now that supplies have arrived, SIH says that more than 1,000 employees will receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in this initial round.
The first COVID-19 vaccines in western Kentucky were administered Thursday. Lourdes Hospital in Paducah vaccinated multiple doctors, including an internal medicine doctor and an oncologist.
Vaccines were also administered to health care workers at Ferrell Hospital. Ten employees received vaccines Thursday morning with more scheduled later in the afternoon and Friday.
As the vaccine is administered around the state, the governor’s office is giving more details about distribution.
- Region 5 received 2,515 doses of the vaccine.
- SIH is responsible for storing and distributing those vaccines.
- Union, Jefferson, Perry, Williamson, and Saline counties received vaccines.
Those areas are among the top-50 for deaths-per-capita in Illinois.