UW Health gives out first COVID-19 vaccine as doses roll into Madison

Staff shared both laughter and tears as they administered some of the first vaccines in the state.
Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 9:27 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2020 at 4:12 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine have rolled into Madison and UW Health has given out the first dose of the vaccine.

The first UW Health employee to get the Pfizer COVID-19 was respiratory therapist Tina Schubert, who received the vaccine around 2:30 p.m. from manager of UW Health’s employee health services Megan LaClair-Netzel.

“I wanted to inspire people, especially the patients who look like me,” said Schubert.

Schubert described caring for COVID-19 patients as “exhausting” and “heartbreaking.”

“We need to save more lives, and I think this is the way to do it,” she said after receiving the vaccine.

The second employee to be vaccinated was UW Health Nurse Mavic Tjardes. UW Health noted that Tjardes is a care team leader in one of the COVID-19 units at University Hospital.

Tjardes was followed by Dr. Ann Sheehy, who is a doctor that treats COVID-19 patients. Staff at UW Health shared both laughter and tears as they administered the first vaccines.

“I think the majority of our employees are feeling really excited, it’s a great day to be able to receive the vaccine,” said Dr. Matt Anderson, UW Health’s senior medical director of primary care.

The University of Wisconsin Health System announced Monday morning it received a batch of the vaccine – and it isn’t wasting any time before delivering them.

UW Health announced earlier that employees were expected to start receiving shots as soon as Monday afternoon with the health system noting it is following federal and state guidelines that recommend vaccinating frontline healthcare workers first.

“Those will be folks like our respiratory therapists, our hospital medicine group, emergency department, ICU, those types of individuals working in those environments providing direct care to patients,” Anderson explained.

The Dept. of Health Services sent 3,900 doses in this first batch. After receiving the vaccines, UW Health has moved them to ultra-cold freezers, awaiting distribution.

Those 3,900 doses are all first round doses. The full Pfizer vaccine requires two shots, and UW Health expects that second round in the next few weeks.

“We’ll be going ahead and vaccinating and then when it’s time for those second doses, they’ll be delivered to us by the manufacturer,” Anderson explained.

UW Health is the health system of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has more than 1,750 doctors and 21,000 staff at seven hospitals and more than 80 outpatient sites, according to its website.

UW Health also said they want to reassure people that the vaccine is safe.

“The safety protocols have not been compromised in the name of speed for these initial vaccine developments,” Anderson said.

The health system is one of eight vaccine hubs in Wisconsin expected to receive the vaccine this week.

SSM Health told NBC15 it was likely to get its first shipment on Tuesday. It is expecting to receive 6,000 doses, which will also go to frontline healthcare workers. A SSM Health spokesperson said approximately two-thirds of its staff said they were open to taking vaccine once it arrives.

In New York, health care workers have already begun receiving vaccinations with one critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Sandra Lindsay, saying she felt “relieved” after getting the shot.

“I feel hopeful today,” she added.

Schubert echoed that, saying she is happy the vaccine is finally here and coming close to tears.

“It’s important because too many people have died from this,” she said.

This story is still developing. NBC15 will provide updates when more information becomes available.

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