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Local Hospital Administers First Doses of COVID Vaccine to Frontline Staff

Local Hospital Administers First Doses of COVID Vaccine to Frontline Staff

Norman Regional Health System received more than 970 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and began immunizing frontline healthcare workers Thursday, Dec, 17.

Those in Phase 1 of the vaccination distribution who also work at Norman Regional Health System are healthcare workers providing direct inpatient COVID care, public health staff conducting frontline COVID pandemic mitigation and Oklahoma State Licensed emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

First in line to get the vaccine included JoAnn Dean, registered nurse. Dean had just finished working a shift in Norman Regional’s COVID unit the previous day. She said she was excited to get the vaccine.

Also immunized was Keandra Hearne, a respiratory therapist who works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Norman Regional Hospital. She said the pandemic has been difficult and has had her in tears weekly since March.

“My patients keep me coming back to work every day,” she said. “They don’t realize what a miracle they are.”

For Hearne, the vaccine represents hope for the future.

“We can’t continue on this way, losing people daily, people struggling with lost jobs, I hope this vaccine will help,” she said.

Norman Regional also owns and operates EMSSTAT, the ambulance provider for the cities of Moore and Norman. Among those to be vaccinated today was Teagan Hawkins, EMSSTAT paramedic. Hawkins was going to be married this year, but postponed the wedding because of COVID. Another way his family was shaped by COVID this year was that his grandmother was diagnosed with cancer at the start of the pandemic and she has been isolating ever since.

“I’ve only been able to see my grandmother through a window,” he said. “I’m excited to see her in person soon.”

Hawkins also mentioned as a paramedic, he’s seen people both with COVID and also those who are afraid to seek medical care and often wait until a health problem is dire.

“It’s hard to see people in that situation,” he said. “This vaccine will do a lot of good for people.”

Emergency Medicine physician Robin Mantooth, MD, echoed Hawkins’ statements. She returned to the hospital after working an 18-hour shift to receive the vaccine.

“I’m glad to have it and glad it’s here. This is a great step forward,” Mantooth said.

To learn more about the vaccine including Oklahoma’s vaccine plan and phases, please visit here.