Wichita healthcare workers relieved to get first doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 5:00 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Many of the staff at Wichita’s main hospitals, Ascension Via Christi and Wesley Medical Center, say the COVID-19 vaccine has been long-awaited. This week, healthcare workers at the hospitals were among the first in Kansas to receive the vaccine. Doctors and nurses having access to the vaccine should eventually help to ease some of the concerns about staff shortages. Ultimately, the hope is that enough Kansans in the general public get it for victory over the pandemic to become a reality.

Ascension Via Christi reported vaccinating almost 1,000 of its staff this week. In the days ahead, healthcare professionals throughout Kansas will also receive their first round of the COVID-19 vaccine that’s currently available.

“It’s honestly exhilarating. It’s something like no vaccine or shot that I could ever give. This is something much bigger,” said traveling nurse Taylor Jones of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Local health professionals including Jones, Wesley Medical Center Chair of Internal Medicine Dr. William Park, Ascension Via Christi Director of Infection Prevention Dr. Maggie Hagan, and Wesley Medical Center ICU Director Dr. Chloe Stienshouer, a pulmonary specialist, said the vaccine’s arrival is a glimmer of hope.

“Just seeing how devastating it’s been for families and patients and finally having something to do to prevent severe infection, it’s a great deal,” Dr. Park said.

Dr. Hagan said the vaccine’s availability has boosted morale for healthcare workers. She said it’ll take everyone to end the pandemic for good.

“The only way we stop this pandemic that we’re all living through, and we allow life to get somewhat back to normal is for the majority of the population to get vaccinated,” she said.

Dr. Steinshouer offered some assurance for those hesitant about the vaccine.

“I would be a lot more scared about getting the virus than I would the vaccine,” she said.

The vaccine will be made available to the public in phases. Eyewitness News spoke to Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns on Tuesday (Dec. 15). He said the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is expected to send the vaccine to nursing homes next week. In the coming weeks, Eyewitness News will continue to relay further information about when more Kansans can expect the vaccine.

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