Health care employees across Delaware Valley receive first dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

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Saturday, December 19, 2020
Health care employees across Delaware Valley receive Pfizer vaccine
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"We expect to immunize over 22,000 individuals," said Dr. Janice Nevin, the president and CEO of ChristianaCare.

MULLICA HILL, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Health care workers across the Delaware Valley received the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

"We expect to immunize over 22,000 individuals," said Dr. Janice Nevin, the president and CEO of ChristianaCare. "In this first group we got 3,410 doses from Pfizer and our goal is to use them all up."

Operating Room Nurse Rommel Carino was one of the hospitals' frontline workers receiving the vaccine.

Carino says he will still continue to follow safety measures and will return for the second shot in the coming weeks.

"We still have to wear our masks. We still have to do our six-foot social distancing. We still have to protect ourselves our communities," he said.

With Moderna's vaccine on the cusp of approval and potentially more COVID-19 vaccines on the way, healthcare workers could be the best litmus test for the general public's overall confidence in a vaccine.

"My goal through this is to get our health care providers confident in the vaccine so they can spread that confidence to patients," said Epidemiologist Dr. Marci Drees.

Drees said some skepticism towards the vaccine comes from the perception it was created quickly.

"It's perceived as new and rushed but it really wasn't. If you think about how Moderna and Pfizer got to today is based on 15 to 17 years of science-based on MNRAs and coronaviruses in general," she said.

The first set of employees at Inspira Medical Center in Mullica Hill and Vineland also received the first dose on Friday.

"I feel great. I've been waiting nine months to get this shot. It was a breeze. You really don't even feel it," said Dr. Glenn Dragon.

Respiratory Therapist Petra Smith was second in line for the vaccine.

"I directly take care of patients that have COVID in the hospital and they're afraid," said Petra.

SEE ALSO | Health care workers in Philadelphia receive COVID-19 vaccine

She said seeing that fear every day helped her decide what to do.

"I was reluctant initially, but as I did some research and read about it, I figured this is important for my family, for my patients and to set an example," Smith said.

Thousands of employees across the Inspira Health Care system will be getting their first of two doses.

Many of them stress that this is only the beginning of the next step to rid the world of this virus.

"I really feel like this vaccine is a light at the end of the tunnel of this pandemic. Everybody, as soon as you're eligible, get vaccinated," Dragon said.

Employees will be receiving the second dose 21 days after getting the first and it must be by the same manufacturer.

The pioneering work for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines began at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Moderna vaccine had been overwhelmingly recommended by an FDA advisory panel for Americans 18-years-old and up.

The FDA says the approval of Moderna's vaccine followed a thorough evaluation of safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality information.

Unlike most vaccines, which are a modified virus or viral protein to elicit an immune response, these vaccines use messenger RNA to instruct the body to begin defending itself against COVID-19.