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Cedar Rapids hospitals give their first COVID-19 vaccine doses to employees



CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Cedar Rapids hospitals received their first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, with the first doses being given to those working directly with COVID-19 patients.

Both Mercy Cedar Rapids and UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s got 975 doses today and began administering to frontline workers.

“As the first healthcare workers in Linn County receive the initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine, we celebrate this important tool in preventing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, and have additional hope for lessening the burden of disease to our community” Tricia Kitzmann, Community Health Manager at Linn County Public Health said. “This is an important step to eventually stopping this pandemic.”

Mercy Cedar Rapids administered about 200 of their first vaccine doses today. Workers receiving these first doses are feeling optimistic about what this means for the future.

“I feel hopeful that this will be the start to the end of this virus and we can live our lives again,” Angie Hawker, a respiratory therapist at Mercy, said.

Just under half of Mercy’s 2,000 total staff members will be treated with this first round of vaccines. Their goal is to protect 100 percent of staff.

“Hopefully, I’ll have some immunity for myself so that I don’t have to be as concerned taking care of those patients,” Claire Holt, a registered nurse in the MICU said.

Five staff members were also inoculated this afternoon at St. Luke’s, and hundreds more will be in the coming days. They expect to use all of the doses by Christmas.

The first nurse to receive the vaccine says it’s exciting to soon have an extra layer of protection going into work.

Anthony Dallago, the registered nurse who administered the first five vaccines at St. Luke’s says it was exciting to be a part of history.

“It’s been a rough year, rough several months and having this opportunity and something like this rolling out we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and it means a lot to all of us,” Dallago said.

For people unsure about the vaccine, she says to follow the science and listen to their primary care providers.

Long-term care facilities will also be a part of the first phase of vaccine distribution.

Officials say that while vaccines are important in controlling the pandemic, the public needs to continue to follow guidelines such as wearing masks, practicing distancing, and washing hands.

Governor Reynolds posted this message Tuesday to Facebook, saying that “hope is on the horizon” but Iowans need to continue to do the right thing.

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