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COVID vaccinations begin for health workers

People urged not to relax virus precautions
Posted at 7:18 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 21:36:54-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — On Thursday health care workers at Tucson hospitals rolled up their sleeves and took the first doses of the COVID vaccine.

With two shots required and a waiting period before immunity kicks in, there's a long road to safety from COVID-19 but for some people, that road began in a parking garage.

Banner Health set up for drive-through vaccinations for the people most at risk---frontline health workers. Iris Delfakis was the first to feel the needle. She’s a nurse who will be vaccinating her co-workers.

“I was like, sign me up, I'm so excited for this, it's historical and it's something I think we should all do for the community because we need to get over this pandemic and start going back to normal,” Delfakis said.

Tucson Medical Center also puts health care workers first in line because they are in such close contact with COVID patients.

Anthony Peterson goes hands-on to help position COVID patients for treatment. He says people who say COVID’s a myth should see the death and grief he’s seen up close and understand what he hopes the vaccine can do for his family.

“What I'm anxious about is, is it going to actually help my mother in law at home has congestive heart failure and I'm her primary care provider up there as well, so that that's one of the reasons why I'm taking this precaution is to, you know, help protect her,” said Peterson.

Claudia Koreny, Tucson Medical Center’s Chief Pharmacist says the special super-cold storage requirements made it a challenge to prep the vaccine but she’s thrilled to see it going where it’s needed.

“No other medication at this time is more important than this vaccine right either the Pfizer brand or the Moderna brand. This is one of the life changing medications that has come our way,” said Koreny.

You may have noticed in our visuals that people giving vaccinations at TMC were not wearing gloves. The hospital shared the text of CDC guidelines that say it’s sufficient to clean hands with germ-killing gel between vaccinations. TMC says otherwise workers would have to put on new gloves for every shot.

Doctor Melissa Zukowski is director of the emergency department at Banner University Medical Center. She says it’s too soon to drop precautions like thorough hand washing and wearing face masks.

She says people should not be concerned about how quickly the vaccine was developed.

“It has gone very very quickly, but the science and the medicine behind this type of technology for this vaccine has been a long time coming even since early 2000, people have been working on this science and so we have to trust in the science. And, and move forward to that we can get back to normal life. I think that's what we all want," Zukowski said.

Doctor Christian Bime is lead ICU doctor at Banner University Medical Center. He’s also studying effects of COVID that can last long after the virus is gone. He hopes people reluctant to take the vaccine could see what he’s seen and feel the faith he has in the shot he just received.

“And so I'm confident enough in the science to take this vaccine. And again, I'm thankful to be one of the first to take it,” said Bime.