Nurses, doctors and technicians finally have a reason to be hopeful this holiday season, as the first doses of the new coronavirus vaccine begin to make their way into the arms of health care workers around the country.
“If you could have told my 3-year-old self that I would love getting a shot one day, I probably wouldn’t have believed it,” Mark Hooks, an emergency nurse at Loretto Hospital, said after getting the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday. “It was great.”
The health care workers who have been on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 will be the first in line to get the new treatment, which scientists and health officials hope will put an end to the pandemic that has been raging for more than nine months in the United States.
Glenna Crouch, a nurse at Community Hospital in Munster, was the first person at the hospital to receive the vaccine.
“If I can save one person, it’s worth it to me,” she said.
As Crouch reflected on the treatment, she remembered the first COVID-19 patient she treated in the intensive care unit, saying that it changed her life forever.
“I don’t think I’ll take anything for granted after working in the ICU with these COVID patients,” she said. “The biggest difference is patients don’t have their families nearby. They don’t have their loved ones by their side, so we have to be their support.”
As vaccines begin their slow rollout, health officials are still cautioning residents to be careful, urging them to abide my mitigations that will help to slow the spread of the virus before vaccines can become widely available.
“It will be many, many months. I think most of 2021 will be spent on this effort,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said.
More doses of the Pfizer vaccine will make their way to Illinois hospitals in the weeks ahead, while the Moderna vaccine could get FDA emergency approval as soon as Friday.