Team members and physicians joined in queue early Friday morning, filled with hope and excitement to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at Baptist Health.
Tujuana Dudley, RN, nurse manager on a COVID-19 unit at Baptist Medical Center South, was the first to receive the vaccine, followed by other team members and physicians who work in COVID-19 units, intensive care units and emergency centers across the system.
“I know it’s my duty to receive the vaccine to keep those around me safe,” Dudley said, who lost a family member recently due to COVID-19. “From the time the pandemic first arrived in March, we’ve seen firsthand how COVID-19 can impact patients, their families and our community.”
Baptist Health will vaccinate 250 team members today, followed by additional vaccinations in the coming weeks as more supply becomes available.
“This is a historic day at Baptist Health,” said Brett McClung, FACHE, president and CEO of Baptist Health. “We are privileged to now have access to the single-most important tool to fight COVID-19. We are so proud of our team members for their leadership in taking this vaccine. This signal of hope is a definite sign that we have reached the beginning of the end of this pandemic.”
The room was filled with celebratory applause and cheerful tears as vaccines were distributed, a significant milestone in the fight against COVID-19 in our community and in our country.
Though the Pfizer vaccine was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), the planning for vaccine allocation began weeks in advance, orchestrated by a multidisciplinary Vaccine Allocation Team (VAT) at Baptist Health.
COVID-19 vaccines are the best tool available to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing all remain incredibly important to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baptist Health has a free community COVID-19 information hotline, available Monday-Friday, 8am – 5pm. Call 904.302.5050 to speak with a nurse. For more information from Baptist Health, view the COVID-19 Information Center.