Teamwork Prevails In Mass COVID-19 Vaccinations At Hospitals

Joy, feel-good tears as exhausted health care workers are vaccinated and see the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
Posted at 8:31 PM, Dec 16, 2020

As hospitals across the country roll out their vaccinations of front line health care staff, it's a glimpse of what’s to come for all of us in the months ahead. 

"COVID-19 is a horrible thing. It’s taken a lot of lives that we have witnessed, and I think its important people understand that getting vaccinations will help you," Angie Gartner, an ICU nurse who got the Pfizer vaccine Wednesday morning, said. 

At Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver, a team of 30 decided who would be first among staff to get the vaccine. The hospital expects to go through the 975 doses in four days. 

This is not just doctors and RN’s in the ICU. "Absolutely, it takes a whole group. We have people that help clean our rooms, we have people that deliver food. Everybody that comes in contact. Respiratory therapists, pharmacy folks," David Lesley, chief nursing officer at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s, said.

ER Intake Secretary Joyce Jones was the first to roll up her sleeve after she was deemed most at risk. 

"I’m the first person they see when they come in. That’s why," Jones said.

Her reason for saying "yes" to the shot...her family.

"They mean the world to me. It’s my husband who has been with me for over 40 years, and my kids and my grandson, and my grandaughter. I don’t want them to get sick and I don’t want them to go through things I’ve seen," Joyce said.

All together Wednesday, Presbyterian/St. Luke’s planned to vaccinate about 300 members of their medical staff. And the vibe  has been nothing by joy. I have even seen a few feel-good tears.

"Alright! OK!" 

"Are you getting yours today?"

The vaccine process is proof of lots of planning. Every 15 minutes, five people arrive to get their shot. Each person goes through a brief check in where they get asked about allergies, and fill out their follow-up card. At the same time, an infectious disease pharmacist preps the doses into shots. 

"We’re kind of working in tandem here — my colleague to my right, he is diluting the vaccine and I am drawing up the doses to be administered," Joshua Sanchez, Infectious Disease Pharmacist at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center said.

After the shot goes in...

"We are going to watch you for about 15 minutes."

The vaccinated staff wait for 15 minutes in freshly sanitized chairs. It’s in case there’s a sudden bad allergic reaction — which has been known to happen, albeit very rarely. They’ll wait another 24 to 48 hours before returning to work. 

"I feel good," Jones said as she waited.

It’s a well-oiled machine, one that will be churning for several hours each day in the coming months.

Lindsey Theis, Newsy, Denver.