(CHANDLER, Ariz. - Dec. 21, 2020) – Dignity Health in Arizona is now administering the COVID-19 vaccine to a designated group of frontline health care workers at its vaccination site located at Chandler Gilbert Community College. Dignity Health in Arizona is leading the vaccination effort at one of the five point of distribution centers designated by the Maricopa County Health Department.
“This is a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Keith Frey, chief medical officer for Dignity Health in Arizona. “Through this vaccine, we have a renewed sense of hope that together we will overcome this virus and return to a new normal on the other side of this pandemic.”
Before the first patient was vaccinated at this site, a blessing of the hands ceremony was held for the health care workers who would be administering the vaccine. For weeks, many of these individuals have closely collaborated with state and county public health officials and other Valley health care systems to achieve this monumental vaccination rollout.
Steve Kirk, an intensive care unit nurse at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and a U.S. Air Force veteran, was first in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, on Monday.
“After several months of treating COVID-19 patients in the ICU, this vaccine gives me hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel and another way to curtail the spread of this virus,” said Kirk.
JD DeHarty, an emergency department nurse at Dignity Health Arizona General Hospital, said getting vaccinated gives him a chance to continue his calling.
“The COVID-19 vaccine gives me a greater opportunity to keep providing medical care to patients throughout the pandemic,” said DeHarty, who is also a father-of-two.
And for other frontline health care workers like Kendra Klein, an occupational therapist at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, getting vaccinated is an act of service to others.
“I received the COVID-19 vaccine in honor of my family and also the community,” said Klein. “This vaccine means we have another tool that may help us get back to our normal lives and feel safe when spending time with those we love.”
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Arizona, this vaccination effort is one way to help slow the spread and protect our frontline health care workers who consistently provide care to some of sickest patients in the state.
Even though the COVID-19 vaccine is here, it’s important for the community to continue practicing infection prevention measures.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is another tool in our toolbox to help us slow the spread of this disease,” said Dr. Omar Gonzalez, an epidemiologist for Dignity Heath in Arizona. “However, until it is more widely available, it is important to continue to practice social distancing, hand hygiene, universal masking and to avoid large crowds.”