SAN DIEGO (KGTV)— As hospitals across San Diego County receive boxes of Pfizer’s highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine, Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) was the first to start vaccinating frontline healthcare workers.
“It was exciting; it felt like a big moment. It kind of feels like it has this energy, of perhaps the beginning of the final chapter of what has felt like a long year for most of us,” said Lt. J.G. Catherine Senoyuit, a staff nurse in the Emergency Department at NMCSD.
Senoyuit was the first to get the vaccine in her arm at NMCSD Tuesday afternoon.
“It feels like I have an obligation to do everything I can to ensure I am immune, so I don’t pass on anything to my patients,” she said.
Like many, Senoyuit was at first a little skeptical about a vaccine put out so quickly, but after doing much research, she said she was reassured it would be safe.
“These companies that have developed this vaccine have put in a lot of work into ensuring and sharing the data to show people how hard they worked to make sure they rolled out this vaccine safely,” she said.
After the injection, Senoyuit said she was told to look out for any adverse reactions similar to other vaccinations.
“Like any vaccinations I ever received, I got a list of the potential adverse reactions which are pretty much the same as any other vaccination,” she explained. “I was held there a few minutes to watch me; I didn’t have any reaction. They told me what could happen, what to look out for, and what to come back and be seen for,” she said.
A couple of hours after NMCSD, Rady Children’s Hospital also began vaccinating its most at-risk frontline personnel.
“I think it’s a really important step for us to get to some kind of normalcy,” said Brittanee Randle, an Emergency Room nurse at Rady Children’s Hospital who was the first to get vaccinated there. “We’ve seen lots of businesses, people, and families be affected by this virus, and I think it’s important for us healthcare workers to take a stand and get the vaccine.”
At this point, the vaccine is not mandatory at either hospital; those who get it will continue wearing masks and receive a second dose three weeks later.
“This is going to be a long process to roll out, so we need to make sure we’re still really careful about wearing masks, social distancing, and following all the guidelines by the CDC,” said Senoyuit.
Tuesday UC San Diego also received its first shipment of nearly 3,000 doses and is expected to vaccinate high-risk workers on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for Palomar Health said they would also be picking up doses from the county Tuesday, and vaccines could be administered to staff as early as Wednesday.
Scripps Health plans to start vaccinations for Tier 1 workers Thursday, and Tri-City Medical Center expects its first shipment sometime this week.