December 18, 2020
UPMC Williamsport Frontline Workers Receive COVID-19 Vaccinations
In a historic moment that many hope will mark the “beginning of the end” of the pandemic, UPMC Williamsport vaccinated several front-line health care workers with the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine today. It is anticipated that UPMC will be able to provide a vaccine to all its front-line health care workers who wish to receive it by the end of January.
“I've seen firsthand what this virus can do, not only as a provider, but also as a concerned family member," said Caroline McNamara, RN, ICU, UPMC Williamsport, who was one of the first workers to get the vaccine. "I've been by the bedside for months caring for the sickest patients battling this virus and recently it hit close to home when my dad ended up in our ICU for care. He needed to be on a ventilator and we were not sure if he was going to make it. Thankfully he made a turn for the better. In addition to the exciting news that today I'll be one of the first to be vaccinated, my family is also celebrating the fact that my dad was able to be discharged yesterday and is home for the holidays. If this vaccine helps protect others from having to go through what we've been through, then it's completely worth it."
In accordance with state and federal distribution guidelines for prioritizing who receives these still-limited vaccines, UPMC began vaccinating its health care workers after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer product and CDC issued updated guidelines.
“This is an incredible day here in Williamsport as it marks the beginning of a return to normalcy and the end of the tragedies inflicted upon our society by the COVID-19 virus,” said Steve Johnson, president, UPMC in the Susquehanna Region. “Today, is a celebration of the courage and example being set by our patient care staff every day. These vaccines will help us protect our caregivers who are tirelessly working day and night caring for our friends, family members, and members of our communities. Today is also a celebration of the work completed by researchers and scientists who took on the herculean task of producing these vaccines safely in such a short time. This accomplishment is nothing short of a miracle of modern science.”
“These vaccines create hope and hopefulness as we’re dealing with a pandemic full of pain and suffering that until recently seemed to have no end in sight,” added Johnson. “They are a sign that someday soon we will get back to family events, holiday parties, social gatherings, and everything else we’ve missed so much this year.”
UPMC hospitals and long-term care facilities across Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland are awaiting thousands of doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. The vaccination program for UPMC’s health care workers is voluntary. While the general public will not be able to receive vaccinations in this initial phase, the shots will be made available to the communities UPMC serves as soon as possible.