UNC REX nurse among those coming out of retirement to serve in COVID-19 vaccine rollout

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The official UNC REX Healthcare badge clipped to Judy Schneider's scrubs reads, "Serving since 2021."

That's because the 65-year-old registered nurse who worked at UNC REX for 29 years had to turn in her old one when she retired in April, 2019.

"Retirement is fabulous," Schneider said, smiling under her face mask as she sits at Table 5, waiting for her next patient to immunize with the COVID-19 vaccine.



Schneider refers to the brief period of time she got to travel with her husband, pre-pandemic, as "the before times."

She will tell you she was glad to be retired and able to quarantine at home when the pandemic started in early 2020.

But when she learned COVID-19 vaccines were coming to North Carolina, she picked up the phone and called the hospital where she spent decades taking care of people.

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"I called and I said, 'Hey, do you need help vaccinating people?' And they said, 'Sure,'" said Schneider who had kept her nursing license active.

Across UNC Health, clinics have now administered more than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses since it started Dec. 15.

Julia Woodson, UNC REX Healthcare Performance Improvement Dir. said her team hired Schneider in mid-January and put her right to work in their clinic that this week, administered its 12,000th COVID-19 vaccination.

"She really is a helping hand," said Woodson. "She's very patient, she's very kind, she's everything you want in a nurse."

Woodson said while vaccine supply is limited right now, she expects it to ramp up as more vaccines get the necessary authorization.

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Her team is looking for more staff and volunteers to operate future vaccine events and wants others like Schneider to come on board.

"If they have it in them and are willing to help, certainly join the cause," she said.

Schneider, who in true healthcare professional fashion, urged everyone to keep wearing their mask after receiving their second dose of vaccine, said it's rewarding to be among those coming out of retirement to serve in such a critical role.

"The people that you're vaccinating are very happy to get it," she said. "So the fact that people are happy to come and get their shots makes it kind of a fun job."

It's a job she said she plans to see through to the end, no matter how long it takes.

And then, "Just think, I'll get to retire again," Schneider said.

You can attribute to SarahLewis Peel, NCDHHS Communications Manager:

When asked how many healthcare workers have come out of retirement during the pandemic, NCDHHS communications manager Sarah Lewis Peel said more than 1,500 people have signed to volunteer with vaccine distribution.

Judy Schneider was hired back at Rex and is not a volunteer.

People who are interested in volunteering can register through the NC Training, Exercise, and Response Management System (NC TERMS).
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