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First Houston hospital workers receive COVID-19 vaccine

Robert Luckey, who works as a nurse in Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center’s COVID Intensive Care Unit, was the first to receive the vaccine.

HOUSTON — Memorial Hermann Health System received its first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and immediately began administering the vaccine to its frontline healthcare workers.

Robert Luckey, an RN, who works as a nurse in Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center’s COVID Intensive Care Unit, was the first to receive the vaccine.

“We have been fighting this battle against COVID-19 since March,” Luckey said. “I’m thrilled there is now a vaccine to help protect us against this virus, and I am very grateful and proud to be among the first in the country to be able to receive it.”

The CDC recommends that healthcare workers who are most at risk of contracting COVID-19 be the first in the United States to receive the vaccinations.

In addition, the state has provided guidance on who will receive the first doses of the vaccine in Texas.

“Today is truly a remarkable day full of optimism for the near future,” said David Callender, M.D., president and CEO of Memorial Hermann. “We are so thankful to be included in the first allocation of this vaccine. Together, our employees and physicians have treated more COVID-19 positive patients in our hospitals than anyone else in the Greater Houston area, and that’s something we’re extremely proud of.”

Memorial Hermann was one of seven Houston area hospitals to receive and begin administering the vaccine Tuesday. Houston Methodist, Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center, LBJ Hospital, Ben Taub Hospital, UTMB Galveston and Texas Children's Hospital also began the process of immunizing frontline workers.

Houston Methodist administered its first shot to Dr. Ashley Drews, an infectious disease doctor.

COVID ICU nurse Roy Christianson was the first to be vaccinated at UTMB Galveston.

MD Anderson was the first Houston hospital to receive the first allotment Monday. Infection control and infectious disease expert, Dr. Roy Chemaly, was the first employee to be vaccinated Tuesday.

After the vaccine has been distributed to essential workers and vulnerable populations identified by the state of Texas, the vaccine will be more widely available. It is uncertain exactly when this will occur – timing will depend on how quickly the Pfizer vaccine can be produced and distributed, and whether or not other vaccines, including Moderna’s candidate, are authorized quickly by the FDA.

“We’re all very hopeful that this will be the turning point we’ve been waiting for since this pandemic began. However, now is not the time to let our guard down,” Dr. Callender said. “Our fight with COVID-19 is not over yet, but at least there is finally an end in sight.”

Dr. Callender stressed that, although the vaccine is here and others are on the way, it will take months to vaccinate everyone who wants to receive it. This is why it is important to continue practicing the three “Ws”: wearing a mask, watching social distance and washing hands frequently.