A palpable sense of energy in vaccination clinics

UW Medicine running full-time vaccination clinics for its employees and first responders at its four hospitals.

Healthcare workers across UW Medicine are getting the call (or rather email) to get vaccinated. It’s a day that couldn’t come soon enough.

At the vaccination clinic at UW Medical Center-Northwest on Dec.18, workers lined up in chairs, filled out their paperwork and then walked into a cubicle for the long-awaited vaccine to help end the pandemic.

Dr. Amir Ghafarian, a vascular surgeon resident, wanted to record this moment for posterity and changed out of his suit into a scrub top and created a video of himself for social media called a boomerang, which stitches photos together forwards and backwards.  

His boss, Dr. Jonathan Rollo, next door was wearing his tiger mask, and said he didn’t feel a thing.

It was the first day of the vaccination clinic and although it seemed like another day at the office, workers got how momentous this day was. A photographer with the European Press Agency was taking photos.

Elizabeth Bridges, a professor of nursing at the UW School of Nursing and national president of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, was overseeing the clinic. She said the next few months are going to be hard, but added there was a palpable sense of energy about this opportunity.

“This is a culmination of years and years of science getting ready for this moment,” she said. “It’s a good day to be a nurse.”

Our healthcare workers  have been fighting a war against an invisible enemy. They have seen patients die. Some of their colleagues have been sick. And the emotional toll has been hard.

Karen Paulsen, a clinical nurse specialist working on the medial surgery units, said she kept a board on her door asking colleagues what they are thankful for.

Betty Anness, a registered nurse, said seeing her coworkers get vaccines has completely changed her mood from dread to optimistim.

“We’re one step closing to being able to hug,” she said.

She said when nurse Amy Fry at Harborview Medical Center was shown getting a vaccine last week in front of media, she and a co-worker on the COVID Unit at Harborview started to cry.

Vaccination clinics are now running full-time at all four UW Medicine hospitals: UW Medical Center-Montlake, UW Medical Center-Northwest, Valley Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center.

It’s an early Christmas present for our nation’s frontline workers, who were thrust into a pandemic that showed no stopping.  Now they see hope.

As of Dec. 21, UW Medicine has vaccinated nearly 1,900 employees and 440 community partners, including early responders.

Bobbi Nodell, bnodell@uw.edu

For details about UW Medicine, please visit http://uwmedicine.org/about.

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