ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The COVID-19 vaccine has made it to Douglas County.
The first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine was sent to Mercy Medical Center. Hospital officials said it contained 975 doses.
They gave the first doses to 30 employees, including physician leadership, nursing leadership and some representatives from administration.
“This is really a historic day for Mercy, for our state and for our community as we try to get back to normalcy," said chief medical officer Jason Gray.
Gray was the first person to receive the vaccine among the 30 selected employees.
He said Thursday's distribution was a pilot as they are still testing their processes. He said they'll have an easier time monitoring how the vaccine reacts to their bodies.
“There’s always a rare chance of an allergic reaction to any medication," he said. "Being a new vaccine, it is a measure of safety.”
However, he said he doesn't want to scare people from getting it.
Gray said the vaccine will not be mandatory among the staff at Mercy Medical Center, but it is strongly encouraged.
"Myself, Dr. (Brad) Robinson, our infectious disease specialist, we would never ask our staff or patients to do something that we don’t feel safe doing ourselves," he said.
Robinson was the second person to receive the vaccine. He told KEZI 9 News that he wanted to do it to show his staff and patients that they have nothing to worry about.
“Obviously the more vaccination uptake we have, the quicker we can achieve immunity in the community," said Robinson.
Gray said they are expecting more shipments of the vaccine and expect to begin vaccinating more employees starting next week. He said they plan to host clinics three times a week and hope to vaccinate at least 50 people at each.
However, even though the vaccine is in Douglas County, Gray said this is not an excuse for people to avoid washing their hands, wearing their masks, social distancing and staying away from large gatherings.
“If we can endure just a little while longer as we get the majority of our citizens vaccinated, then we can start the steps to get back to normal," he said.