- Elisabeth Cote is 39 years old
Nursein the Progressive Care Unit on the Kent campus of Bayhealth Hospital in Kent County, Delaware.
- She was the first person in the state to receive the Pfizer
Covid-19 vaccinationon December 15th.
- Tuesday was 330 days since the first
COVID-19Case has been confirmed in the US. During that time, the pandemic has resulted in more than 300,000 deaths across the country, recently more than 3,000 deaths per day.
- Cote says she was initially nervous about getting the COVID-19 vaccine but knew through her experience caring for COVID-19 patients, many of whom have passed away, that she didn’t want to be someone to deal with Virus infected and passed it on to anyone else.
- This is her story as told to freelance writer Taylor Goebel.
On Tuesday morning at 5:30 a.m., just hours after my shift at Bayhealth Hospital’s Progressive Care Unit, I went back to work to get the first COVID-19 vaccine in Delaware.
I went to an inconspicuous room in the basement of the hospital, past a number of my colleagues, doctors and other front line workers, and waited for their turn to come.
I had received a call from our hospital administration on Monday evening to ask if I would be the first COVID-19 vaccine recipient in Delaware.
Delaware had pre-ordered over 8,000 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, 975 of which arrived at our hospital on Kent campus and were ready to be distributed to employees. Our media coordinator, Danielle Pro-Hudson, said I have been a great steward for Bayhealth and that’s why they wanted me to be the first to help tell the story of why the COVID-19 vaccine is important.
At first I was nervous but excited to represent Bayhealth – especially my unit, which was the original COVID-19 floor of the hospital and has had coronavirus patients every day since the March pandemic.
I looked forward to moving into the next phase of fighting the virus, beyond my job, just to help people who got sick.
After entering the vaccination room, I sat in a gray chair, signed my name on a vaccine slip, and lifted the left sleeve of my Progressive Care Unit t-shirt.
Bayhealth’s director of education, Angeline Dewey, disinfected my skin with a cloth as she prepared to be given the vaccine. We both took a deep breath as she set up the shot for my left arm.
Aside from a few camera flashes, my experience was standard for a vaccine: there was the cold wetness of the disinfectant wipe and the light stabbing of the shot in my deltoid. Dewey put a bandage on my arm, and then next I left the room
I had no immediate side effects other than my arm feeling slightly sore all day, like a flu shot.
Besides me, 84 other Bayhealth employees have received the vaccine so far.
Nerves and excitement aside, I felt mostly relieved after receiving the vaccine. The virus doesn’t go away forever, but the sting in my arm feels like a big step forward.
With the distribution of the vaccine, I hope that soon people will not only be protected from the virus but also be able to live their lives again. The pandemic has been challenging for everyone, especially with home assignments and isolation orders. My own three children are eager to return to school personally.
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I know getting a vaccine can feel like a really personal decision. It’s something new and new can be scary.
I can understand why some people are reluctant to get the vaccine. I’ve been a nurse for four and a half years and at the beginning I also discussed whether or not I should get vaccinated immediately. I wasn’t strong-willed to say, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” But then I saw more and more patients who got COVID-19 from family members and were dying.
I held the hands of several COVID-19 patients this year to make sure they weren’t alone when they died. A family member of a patient told me that her greatest fear was that her loved one would die in need. I promised her that wouldn’t happen.
The patients we lose – that stays with us. I have all of their names in my head.
I didn’t want to be the person who caught the virus and gave it to my family, colleagues, or anyone else, especially since I had the opportunity to avoid it.
In the spring, I wasn’t sure if the first COVID-19 patient to arrive at our Progressive Care Unit would survive. She had been in the hospital for several weeks, struggling to fight a new and deadly virus that doctors and scientists all wanted to understand.
But this first patient prevailed, and we nurses were able to hold a small celebration on the day she left. We played music on our phones and applauded her as we took her downstairs.
With the introduction of the vaccine, I look forward to helping many more patients return to their loved ones.