UK administers its first COVID-19 vaccines

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – UK Hospital has been full of excitement today as 88 healthcare workers are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for the first time.

“This is why you go into healthcare. You think about an unprecedented pandemic, now think about how quickly a vaccination has come about,” said Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Dr. Mark Newman.

At 10:30 Tuesday morning, a UPS package arrived at UK Hospital. Inside, 1,950 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. By the end of the day, 88 healthcare workers received the vaccine for the first time.

“That’s the advantage of technology and where we are as a medical society. We’re really happy and both proud and want to move as fast as we can,” Dr. Newman said.

Hospital officials said they did several test runs before Tuesday’s big event to make sure it would run as smoothly as possibly.

UK Healthcare Chief Pharmacist Philip Almeter says they’re starting off by handing out 88 doses, then ramping up to 258 Wednesday and 260 Thursday. Almeter says the COVID vaccine is more complicated than the flu vaccine, so they opted for a slower start.

“The administrators want to be careful because we know this vaccine is precious,” Almeter said.

Almeter says half of those surveyed in the hospital said they want the vaccine without hesitation. A third said they were interested but wanted more information. The rest declined.

“The healthcare workers at UK Healthcare who are signing up to receive it are showing they believe it’s safe and effective. It’s the best approach we can do right now to stop the spread of this virus,” Almeter said.

Hospital officials say the readiness of healthcare workers to get the vaccine serves as an example to others in the community that they believe it’s safe and effective.

“I think as a state we’re coming down. We’re plateauing now in our rates. We need to sustain. We see the finish line but we can’t stop now,” said Newman. “We have to work really hard on that while we’re doing the vaccination. If we do those two things well and parallel we will make good progress.”

Those who do receive the vaccine this week will have follow up appointments in about 20 days.

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