CORONAVIRUS UTAH

Salt Lake VA Hospital Gets Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

Dec 22, 2020, 7:02 PM | Updated: Feb 11, 2021, 12:23 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the Salt Lake VA hospital Tuesday morning and just a few hours later, medical workers started getting shots.

You don’t get into the medical field unless you truly care about people. There’s no doubt Pamela Makris cares, especially when it comes to helping veterans at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City. 

“It’s very hard to watch them suffer,” she said. “We’ve watched a lot of suffering and a lot of death nine, 12, 11 months.” 

Tuesday afternoon, though, it was her turn to sit down. Even though she’s had plenty of shots before, the one she received in her right arm was different. 

It came with cheers. 

Makris, who works as an emergency room nurse at the VA, was the first health care worker there to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

A dry erase board showed the excitement over the arrival of the Moderna vaccine at the Salt Lake City VA Hospital. (Aubrey Shafer/KSL-TV)

“It’s a step in a new direction to restore our life as we knew it,” she said. 

The VA hospital took delivery of  2,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine Tuesday morning. 

Although it’s not mandatory for medical workers to get the vaccine, plenty of them lined up for it. 

“It’s so nice to know that there’s hope at the end of this,” said Janiel Green, a physician assistant at the hospital. 

The vaccine isn’t just to protect veterans from the virus. It’s also so those veterans, who have done so much for our country, can enjoy the simple pleasure of seeing family and friends again.   

The hospital got enough vaccine for 2,200 shots. (Aubrey Shafer/KSL-TV)

“There are times when they will say, ‘You’re the only one I have talked to in a couple of weeks,’” said Green. 

Depression among veterans is an issue, and the social distancing aspect of COVID-19 leads to isolation. 

“We have seen a high degree of mental health conditions where people are reaching out and really having trouble coping with their normal life and dealing with the things they have to go through in this pandemic,” said John Nord, deputy chief of staff at the VA hospital. 

However, at the clinic Tuesday afternoon, you could feel the hope. 

The vaccine in those little syringes really is a big deal. 

“Yeah, and you know, it may not be normal for a while, but this is the first step,” said Green. “That’s what’s important.”

The hospital expects to have their entire staff done in 3-4 weeks. Then, the plan is to start vaccinating their high risk veterans.
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Salt Lake VA Hospital Gets Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine