Mercy Health Love County - News

COVID-19 Vaccine Administered to Hospital Staff

Posted on Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020


David Manning, RN, administers the Pfizer-BioNTech
vaccine for prevention of COVID-19 to emergency room
Physician Assistant Kari Cochran on December 17, 2020 


Dozens of front-line medical workers and staff at Mercy Health/Love County Hospital, Clinic, and EMS rolled up their sleeves December 17-18 to be inoculated against COVID-19.

The reaction was a collective sigh of relief after months of serving patients infected with the rapidly-spreading virus. As of December 21, 801 county residents had tested positive for COVID-19, or about 10% of the population. The incidence is expected to increase significantly before the pandemic ends. COVID-19 is flu-like but more contagious and more unpredictable in the toll it takes in any individual.

The participating medical workers – about 90 persons in all – were the first in Love County to be offered the brand new coronavirus vaccine.  “I am encouraged to be moving forward with the vaccination program. The closer we get to herd immunity the better it will be for everyone,” said Kari Cochran, one of the emergency room physician assistants.

She treats patients affected by COVID-19, taking the time to don and doff a special mask, faceshield, long-sleeved gown, and gloves every time. These safety steps will continue even after vaccination. “The vaccine plays a part in keeping us healthy, along with the continued diligent use of PPE, handwashing, and sanitization of the area, “Cochran said.

A statewide public health effort has been launched to offer the vaccine to the rest of Oklahoma’s population over the coming months. Phase I, in December, covers 150,000 health care workers of inpatient facilities, as well as nursing home residents and staff.

The Love County-District Health Department organized the vaccination clinic at the hospital, in cooperation with medical staff, who gave the shots. Amanda Thompson, the health department’s administrative assistant, Debra Graham, RN, and Kristin Dean, RN, counseled recipients on the vaccine’s risks and effectiveness and handled the paperwork.

The counseling, according to the hospital’s Quality Control Director Megan Stephens, RN, proved reassuring to coworkers. “We were finally able to have information in hand to understand the vaccine is safe and beneficial. We’re very data driven and the data was convincing."

Her colleagues recognized that they were “making history” as first to be treated but also savvy enough to realize their vaccine experiences, good or bad, can help others. “The CDC offered us a tracking program. We are contacted daily to answer their questions about how we are feeling,” Stephens said.

Stephens and Emergency Room Manager Tad Hall, PA-C, drove to Mercy Ardmore to pick up the vaccine supply. Taken from cold storage, the vaccine had to be used within five days. About 17 vials of the substance, each containing enough vaccine to inoculate five recipients, were obtained.

The whole vaccination clinic process will be repeated in three weeks, as the vaccine requires a second, booster shot for long-lasting effectiveness at preventing COVID-19.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies to COVID-19. It is first on the market, concluding a massive U.S. federal government initiative to create a vaccine within 12 months to stem the worldwide pandemic.