Hospitals honor 'other' front line workers by putting them in top vaccine tier

Housekeeping, custodians put near top of vaccine list
Posted at 6:12 AM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 10:34:54-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As hospitals across San Diego give COVID-19 vaccines to people in Tier 1, they're making sure to also include front-line workers many of us overlook.

Environmental service employees, like housekeepers and custodians, have been among the first to get vaccinated.

"We're making history," says Rosalvina Baez, who works at Rady Children's Hospital. "It's very exciting."

Baez got her shot on the second day that Rady did vaccinations for the coronavirus. She's been cleaning rooms at the hospital for 15 years.

Baez battled coronavirus earlier this year, catching it from her husband who works as a gardener. That experience made her more dedicated to her work.

"I try to disinfect the rooms as best I can, because I know the feelings (of the disease)," she says. "So I try to do my best for the patients and the families."

Hospital employees like Baez often have direct contact with patients, as they clean rooms, change sheets, serve meals, and more. That puts them at the same level of risk as doctors and nurses.

Rady Children's Hopsital says they have already vaccinated more than half of their Environmental Services employees. Sharp Hospitals say they've put that group of people in the first wave of vaccines. Sharp wasn't able to provide a full breakdown, but says they've already vaccinated 9,000 employees total.

"It helps us physically and mentally," says Gloria Jackson, who works at Sharp Grossmont. She told ABC 10News that this has been a stressful year, but getting the vaccine makes it easier.

Jackson says she was so excited to get the vaccine, she asked to come in on her day off for her shot.

In addition to the protection the shot gives them, it's also a morale boost. Employees say it's a sign of respect from the hospitals that they're among the first to get a vaccine.

They hope their example can inspire others to get one when the time comes.

"I feel more confident," says Baez. "Now I can protect myself and my family and the patients in the hospital."