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KU Health System begins COVID-19 vaccinations for frontline workers

"It's a game changer. I hope more people will get the shot," said Copeland.

Posted: Dec 17, 2020 10:14 AM
Updated: Dec 17, 2020 10:19 AM

(KANSAS CITY, Kan.) Packed in dry ice, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the University of Kansas Health system.

Tuesday, history was made at the University of Kansas Health system as it was one of the first hospitals in Kansas to receive the vaccine. The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine going from boxes to frontline health care workers. 

It wasn't long for the hospital to have it's very own history-making moment. 

Health care workers erupted in applause nine months after the pandemic begin as their first frontline worker received the immunization.

"It's very exciting," said Mary Ann Copeland, Respiratory Therapist for University of Kansas Health System. 

Copeland was the first at the hospital to take the vaccine. She said after treating the first COVID-19 patient to come through the hospital and everyday since, she wasn't scared. 

"Everything has its risks, so it's a chance I'm willing to take." 

Copeland, like all frontline health care workers, are first in line to get the vaccine because they deal with the deadly virus daily. 

"For many of us- and I have nurses that have been doing this for 30-40 years to this is the first year of their career- these are the sickest patients we've ever seen. They are continuously getting more complex," said Casey Pickering, ICU Nurse Manager.

The Pfizer vaccine which is 95% effective, arrives at a critical time for the country as the U.S. leads the world with more than 16 million cases. Health care workers said this vaccine is the boost the world needs. 

"It's not just a shot of the immunization, it's also a shot of adrenaline. It kinda gives us extra momentum to kinda go through and keep battling this. Hopefully this is the next step in getting things better for our community and our country," Dr. Todd Crane, emergency medicine. 

Unfortunately for more than 300,000 Americans, the COVID-19 vaccine comes too late.

As more pain is likely in the months ahead, the vaccine gives a shot of hope that the beginning of the end of the pandemic has finally arrived. 

"It's a game changer. I hope more people will get the shot," said Copeland. 

Those who receive the Pfizer vaccine will need a booster shot three weeks later.

In Kansas, high risk health care workers and people living and working in long-term care facilities will be the first to receive the doses of the vaccine.

Kansas received more than 23,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The state expects to see almost 50,000 doses of Moderna. Missouri should see 51,000 doses of Pfizer this week and more than 105,000 doses of Moderna once it's shipped out. 

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