Nurse who screens visitors is first Duke worker to get vaccine

Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Vaccinations begin at Duke University Hospital
According to NCDHHS, Atrium Health, Duke University Hospital and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center all received doses on Monday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The first doses of the FDA authorized Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in North Carolina.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday morning that it was a "remarkable achievement for science and health." He noted that the first shipments were of limited supply, taking another opportunity to remind the public how important it will be to continue wearing masks and socially distancing for the time being.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Friday. By Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially allowed the drug to be administered to people ages 16 and older.

From Dec. 14 through Dec. 18, hospitals across North Carolina expect to receive more than 85,000 doses of the vaccine.

According to NCDHHS, Atrium Health, Duke University Hospital and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center all received doses on Monday.

Duke University Hospital said it received the first doses -- a total of 2,925 -- at 9:17 a.m. They were safely locked in the ultra-cold freezers by 10:10 a.m.

WATCH: Duke Hospital unboxes, stores first COVID-19 vaccine shipment

Duke pharmacist Jordan DeAngelis places three trays of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in a deep freezer at Duke University Hospital. Each tray holds 195 vials and each vial contains 5 doses of vaccine for a total of 2,925 delivered today.

Faye Williams, a 65-year-old Alamance County nurse who came out of retirement during the pandemic and currently works to screen visitors as they enter Duke University Hospital, was the first Duke worker to get the vaccine.

RAW VIDEO: Faye Williams, who returned to work at the beginning of the pandemic, got vaccinated on Monday.

"We've got to take it," Williams said. "We've got to be the example."

Joey Smith, the assistant director for environmental services, is set to get the vaccine this week.

"I thought about it from when I first found it was offered -- about 2 weeks. I talked to doctors, my doctor, other people who said 'yes' to get it and listen to their reasons for saying yes to get it. And of course talked to my family, my wife and make sure everybody was comfortable on me receiving the vaccine too," he said.

Duke worker set to get vaccine this week says he's 'nervous' but 'excited'

Joey Smith, the assistant director for environmental services, said getting the vaccine was the right thing to do for him and his family.

"We are proud of our team members for living our values and taking one more step to protect our patients, their loved ones, and each other," Dr. Thomas Owens, president of Duke University Hospital, said in a statement. "While we are grateful to start administering safe and effective vaccines, we know that there is still a long road ahead of us. With record cases of COVID-19 currently in our community, we must all commit to reducing the spread of infection."

Atrium Health, which is based in Charlotte, also began inoculating front line workers immediately.

The group's Medical Director of Infection Prevention, Dr. Katie Passaretti, was first in line for the vaccine.

"Feel perfectly fine. Just a moment of hope, a moment of potential for change of the course that we're on with the pandemic right now. I couldn't be more excited. I feel perfectly fine; I've had no issues with the vaccine."

Possibly the first hospital system in the state to receive the vaccine was in Winston-Salem. Wake Forest Baptist Health said it received its shipment at 7:30 a.m.

UNC Health said Monday morning it expects to receive its first shipments of the vaccine Tuesday.

Dr. David Wohl is an infectious disease specialist at UNC and will be among the first workers there to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

"This is really an incredible milestone and very important moment," Dr. Wohl said.

Wohl said it is not mandatory and will go to those eligible, such as people treating COVID-19 patients.

Tuesday's shipment of vaccines will be dosed out in Hillsborough and Chapel Hill.

Dr. David Wohl will be one of the first UNC workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday

"On the one hand I feel conflicted because I shouldn't be ahead of the line. On the other hand I really do want to demonstrate to folks that this is important," Dr. Wohl said. "I feel confident and I feel reassured that this is the right thing to do. So if I can do this and signal that this is okay that this is a risk worth taking, the risk seems very small and the risk of COVID seems pretty big."

Dr. Wohl said people must not let their guards down even with a light at the end of the tunnel. COVID-19 is still spreading quickly in North Carolina and the United States, so Wohl says we have to do better than ever before.

"What we really have to do is not let down our guard. We do know the virus is being transmitted at record levels, there's no more transmission today than there was the day before and the week before that and the week before that," said Dr. Wohl.

"UNC Health officials were notified by NCDHHS late Sunday that UNC Medical Center is expected to receive vaccines on Tuesday. Other hospitals in our system, including UNC REX, are expected to get vaccines later in the week. We continue to work on preparations so that we can begin inoculating our frontline staff as soon as possible once the vaccines arrive."

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said the remaining week one sites will receive vaccine on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week.

UNC Medical Center, Cape Fear Valley Health System and WakeMed Raleigh Campus are set to receive 2,925 doses initially.

TIMELINE: Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine and when

The vaccine distribution will continue throughout the week. By Christmas, the state hopes to have delivered vials of the vaccine to all 100 counties.

SEE ALSO: What are the side effects of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine?

The Durham VA Health Care System announced Friday that it is one of 37 VA sites to receive initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine -- the VA is also North Carolina's only Veterans health care system to receive doses. However, the VA has not specified how many doses it will be receiving.

"We are very excited to provide a vaccine that has the potential to help get COVID-19 under control when used alongside public health measures such as masking, physical distancing and frequent handwashing," said Mr. Paul Crews, Durham VA Health Care System Executive Director.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services also lists the following hospital systems as destinations for the first round of vaccines: Caldwell Memorial Hospital, Granville Health System, Hoke Hospital, Margaret R Pardee Memorial Hospital, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, Johnston Health, Moore Regional Hospital, Nash UNC Health Care, Onslow Memorial Hospital and UNC Lenoir Health Care, Wayne Memorial.

The first people in the state to receive the authorized vaccine will be health care workers at the highest risk of COVID-19 exposure. This includes doctors and nurses working with COVID-19 positive patients, as well as workers who are cleaning areas where COVID-19 patients have been.

WATCH: What will happen with NC's first 85,800 COVID-19 vaccine doses?

A U.S. government advisory panel endorsed widespread use of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine Thursday. Now the FDA needs to sign off.