Excitement was in the air as needles went into arms, marking the first of the COVID-19 vaccines delivered at Franciscan Health hospitals in Crown Point, Hammond and Michigan City on Friday morning.
Physicians, nurses and support staff who have been on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic during this past year were first in line to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the first approved by the Food and Drug Administration under an Emergency Use Authorization.
Franciscan Health Michigan City Vice President of Clinical Support Services Jill Nygren said colleagues told her they couldn’t sleep last night, knowing that the vaccine was at the hospital. “We are thrilled. We feel like this pandemic has really taken a toll on the community and society and everyone’s day-to-day life, so we’re hoping that this is the beginning of the end, once we can get people protected,” she said.
At Franciscan Health Hammond, vaccine recipients took selfies and even shared the experience on Facebook Live to demonstrate the ease of getting the shot. In Crown Point, several staff sported holiday gear and Christmas sweaters, displaying the jovial mood of the first COVID-19 vaccination day. Several individuals receiving the vaccine asked for photos to be taken so they could show their family and friends.
Those who received the vaccination were scheduled for a second dose of the vaccine in three weeks. Studies have shown that the vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 seven days after receiving the second dose.
At Michigan City, the morning began with a blessing performed by Father Bill O’Toole, who prayed “the physicians and staff who will be vaccinated will also receive with kindness those who they may care for.” Franciscan staff lined up to applaud the delivery of the doses of vaccine from the frozen storage to the vaccine clinic.
Michigan City infectious disease physician Dafer Al-Haddadin, MD, was among those getting the shot first, in hopes of inspiring others to get vaccinated as well. “I think it’s a very, very nice cheerful gift for all of us that I will take as my Christmas gift this year, so hopefully we can save next year’s Christmas,” he said.
Those receiving the vaccine at all Hoosier hospitals register and schedule their appointment using a link for eligible healthcare workers only. In addition to Franciscan employees, outside healthcare workers are also be able to schedule their vaccination at Franciscan Health sites. Vaccination location is determined by both home address and facility of employment.
More than 200 vaccinations were delivered at Franciscan Health Crown Point and Hammond hospitals and more than 100 received vaccinations in Michigan City. The vaccination clinics will continue to operate through Indiana’s initial phases, which will expand to additional healthcare workers.