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Lane County hospitals begin vaccinating staff for coronavirus

A long-awaited moment in Lane County is finally here.

Posted: Dec 21, 2020 8:09 AM
Updated: Dec 22, 2020 5:57 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- A long-awaited moment in Lane County is finally here as the first health care workers in our area received the coronavirus vaccine Monday morning.

McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center is holding vaccine clinics throughout the week for its health care workers who work with COVID-19 patients and anticipates more than 400 people to be vaccinated by the end of the week. So far, the hospital has received just one shipment, and the second dose of the vaccine will need to be administered in another three weeks.

Infectious Disease Hospitalist Dr. Harry Scholtz was first in line.

“It was great! A momentous occasion here. We're witnessing history and it was painless and easily tolerated so I'm happy to be a part of it and happy to help spread the good news,” Scholtz said.

Scholtz emphasized the importance and efficacy of the vaccine and said it's now crucial to get it to as many people as possible.

According to Scholtz, about 1,000 employees will need the vaccine at McKenzie-Willamette. All of them could receive the shot as early as the beginning of January.

PeaceHealth also began vaccinating staff at Riverbend Hospital on Monday. PeaceHealth has about 6,000 employees across its network who will need the vaccine. The hospital received 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine last week and anticipates receiving more sometime this week.

Carol Eickmeyer, a Riverbend nurse who works inside the intensive care unit, was first in line to receive the vaccine. 

"I'm excited that the vaccine is here in Oregon and we're finally getting it. It feels like the light at the end of a really long tunnel," Eickmeyer said. 

Everyone who received the vaccine Monday said it was a largely painless process, akin to a regular flu shot. Both hospitals are using the Pfizer vaccine which they are able to store in ultra-cold freezers. 

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