A glimmer of hope arrived Thursday when Sierra View Medical Center administered the first of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to staff at the hospital.

After the vaccines were delivered, Sierra View immediately started administering the vaccine to high-risk area front-line staff and physicians having direct contact with COVID-19 patients who have opted in to receive the vaccination.

We are very excited to be getting the vaccination to some of our staff today, and these are the high-risk direct care providers who are getting the Pfizer vaccine,said Sierra View Chief Nursing Officer, Dr. Jeffery Hudson-Covolo, DNP. “There are many healthcare workers who have been waiting for this opportunity. It will provide a level of protection for those that take the series of immunizations providing antibodies to the SARS CoV-2 virus.”

Beginning on Thursday, approximately 50 front-line healthcare workers received their vaccination and this first round of immunizations were given out to those who are identified as high-risk. The first staff member to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Sierra View and one of the irst in Tulare County was ICU Registered Nurse Kathy Hughes who has been serving at the bedside COVID-19 patients, including patients in life-threatening situations.

Time off for nurses is crucial, especially during these unprecedented times, but Hughes used her own personal time to receive her COVID-19 vaccination. Hughes said she has been waiting for this day and couldn't be more excited and relieved to care for her patients without the extra fear.

“I’m so thankful for the vaccination, which will make it so much easier to care for COVID-19 patients,” Hughes said. “I think the vaccine is going to be very safe…and is needed to move forward.”

When Hughes was asked how she felt about the safety of the vaccine, she replied “we’ve been making vaccines for a long time” and she believes this is one of the only ways to help stop spread this virus. She added the more people who receive the vaccine, the better it will be, saying this is the start to a solution to put an end to the pandemic.

After Hughes received the shot, she said it didn’t hurt like a tetanus or DTaP shot and she felt great.

Healthcare workers with direct, indirect, and no contact roles at Sierra View will be stratified under the same plan to receive the vaccine as more doses become available. Just as the general population, healthcare workers are curious and cautious and it's a personal decision to take the vaccination. This vaccination gives many Sierra View employees hope to see an end to the pandemic for the year ahead, the hospital stated. Sierra View also stated it understands those who don't wish to be immunized at this time.

The first round of immunizations will proceed through Monday. A second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is also required for each individual and must be taken 21 days after the first. A reminder is given to employees at the time they receive their first shot and there's strict compliance with the date assignment.

The hospital stated it hopes these first few allocations of the vaccination gives their front-line staff some relief and gives the community in which its serves hope. Several high-risk staff members have also been optimistic and have led by example by stepping up to receive their COVID-19 shot.

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