LEWISTON – Shortly after Claudia Geyer was one of the first Central Maine Healthcare employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, she told the media crowd that she was “extremely grateful, excited, and honored to get this now.”
“This is the greatest window of hope that we have had in a long time,” said the hospital medicine system chief.
Sixty hospital system workers received the first two-dose Pfizer vaccine Wednesday at CMHC’s flagship hospital, Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, and hundreds more are set to receive it in the coming days. Some of the newly vaccinated staff were doctors at greatest risk of contracting the virus – like Geyer, who works with COVID-19 patients from CMMC. Others were also at great risk.
Imad Durra, an infectious disease doctor, was the first CMHC employee to get the shot.
Ron Emond, a 58-year-old environmental worker who runs CMMC’s lingerie division, was also vaccinated on Wednesday. He wanted to make sure he got part of the shot to protect his wife, who is about to have surgery.
Although he doesn’t like needles, Emond said he wasn’t nervous about the new vaccine.
“I trust it,” he said.
CMMC and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center are sharing 975 doses of the vaccine from this initial distribution and administering them over several days to high-risk workers or those directly dealing with COVID-19 patients. Because the vaccines are very heat sensitive, Bates College in Lewiston has lent the two Lewiston hospitals ultra-low temperature freezers to store the cans.
The first Maine hospitals began vaccinating staff on Tuesday. St. Mary’s, which received 400 doses of CMHC, is expected to begin vaccinating its workers Thursday.
The group vaccination of CMHC came when Maine had the highest daily case number of 551.
After her shot, Geyer told reporters that she works in the COVID-19 department at CMMC and that her team takes care of people aged 20 who are “shockingly ill”. She said she respects others’ concerns about the safety of the vaccine, but the virus is your own risk.
“COVID is so real and so devastating,” she said. “Most of our unit is related to people who have gathered (with others) for Thanksgiving. Please remember. We said that would happen and here it is. And Christmas is just around the corner. We are so afraid that in mid-January our unit will be filled again with people who just wanted to be with their family for Christmas. It’s so real The risk is before our faces every day. “
“There is nothing we do in medicine that does not have a potential risk,” she added. “But the benefit of this (shot) so far outweighs the risk that I’m excited to take it.”
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