UW Medicine gives its first COVID-19 vaccinations

Frontline healthcare workers, including a Seattle Fire Department paramedic, were among the initial group immunized against the pandemic virus.

“Momentous” was the word of the day, said UW Medicine’s infection control director Dr. John Lynch on Tuesday, Dec. 15, as he welcomed the first group of frontline healthcare workers about to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. 

The initial supply of vaccine had been delivered to Seattle just one day earlier. Cheered by bystanders, the precious cargo had had been loaded onto a FedEx truck at the Pfizer-BioNTech facilities in Portage, Michigan, and been marked “priority boarding” on a flight out of Gerald Ford International Airport.  Those arriving at UW Medicine were quickly whisked into ultracold freezers.

Tuesday morning, pharmacists carefully warmed some of the vaccines in preparation for administration.  Awaiting the priming dose, which will be followed in a few weeks by a boosting dose, was a variety of workers from the frontlines of patient care.  They had agreed to be part of the public launch, covered by news and social media, to signal the start of the rollout. 

Lisa Brandenburg, president of UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics, opened the “First Shots Ceremony.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to be at this milestone event,” she said. Thirty-nine hundred vaccines were received as part of the initial allotment, she said, to be given under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, for healthcare workers most at risk at UW Medicine and among community partners. She thanked them for their service during the pandemic, and called them “The true stars.”

Ready to take her seat at the vaccination table was Amy Fry, a nurse at Harborview Medical Center’s COVID-19 intensive care unit.  She said she felt honored to be there. Her upper arm was swabbed. Within seconds she was the first UW Medicine frontline staff member to receive the immunization.  She described it as “like a flu shot” accompanied by a “sense of relief.” The room broke out in applause.

Afterward Fry said she felt hope for the first time in a while. “It’s been a long, exhausting road,” she said.

Fry was one of the baker’s dozen getting their first doses today at UW Medicine. Others:

  • Emily Agudo, nurse, Emergency Department, UW Medical Center – Northwest 
  • Joseph B. Gipson, Environmental Services, UW Medical Center – Montlake 
  • Alan Goto, paramedic, Seattle Fire Department Medic One 
  • Mikaela Hagberg, flight nurse, Airlift Northwest 
  • Dr. Shahina Banthanavasi, medical director, Hospitalist Team, Valley Medical Center 
  • Dr. Patricia Kritek, Pulmonary/Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, UW Medical Center – Montlake 
  • Myo Thant, patient care technician, UW Medical Center – Montlake 
  • Dr. Emily Martin, emergency medicine, third-year resident 
  • Annika Lucich, nurse, COVID acute care, UW Medical Center – Montlake 
  • Jules Mack, clinical specialist, Respiratory Care, Harborview Medical Center 
  • Dr. Thuan Ong, director, Post-Acute Care Network, Harborview Medical Center 
  • Kristian Duenez, medical assistant, float 

Twitter video of the vaccination event: Part 1, Part 2

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


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