Utah’s Rural Hospitals Begin Vaccinating Front-Line Caregivers

Dec 24, 2020, 5:48 PM | Updated: 11:16 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The week before Christmas has been emotional for caregivers as Utah hospitals try to turn the corner on COVID-19.

Intermountain Healthcare has started to vaccinate front-line doctors and nurses at rural hospitals and Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

“The vaccine for COVID is so important,” said Tessa Vasquez, a nurse manager at intermountain Heber Valley Hospital. She was the first at her hospital to receive the initial shot of protection against COVID-19.

“We have a lot of caregivers that are exposed to it on a daily basis,” she said. “This helps to keep them safe.”

Tessa Vasquez, a nurse manager at intermountain Heber Valley Hospital, was the first at her hospital to receive the initial shot of protection against COVID-19. (Intermountain Healthcare)

She said the vaccine will also help to keep them from spreading the virus to their families and the community.

“It helps them to be able to be here, and not have to miss work because of being sick so that we have enough people to care for the community when they need it,” said Vasquez.

A little bit of relief has finally arrived for those on the front line at Utah’s hospitals away from the Wasatch Front.

Dr. Doug Vogel, an emergency room physician at Intermountain Heber Valley Hospital, knows people are tired of social distancing and wearing masks. But when he gets to work, he sees the reality of the virus.

“More and more, the majority of patients I’m seeing are having cough and shortness of breath and fever,” said Vogel.

He’s glad to be getting more protection in addition to the PPE they’ve worn the last nine months.

“Getting the vaccine is just another line of defense, so we can stay vigilant and continue doing what we’re doing, but at the same time have that security that we’ve got another thing going for us,” he said.

Doctors and nurses at Primary Children’s Hospital are excited to roll up their sleeves, too.

“The energy is great in here today, and I feel like it’s hopefully the start of an end for us,” said Brittany Badeau, a pediatric ICU nurse at Primary Children’s Hospital.

She is grateful to have an opportunity to get the vaccine, she said. Badeau has cared for children with COVID-19 and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, also known as MIS-C.

“It’s definitely a virus that affects kids,” she said. “I know some people don’t think it does. But, it’s absolutely seen in the ICUs, it’s seen on our floors.”

So, she’s encouraging everyone to get their vaccine as soon as it’s available.

“It’s almost a bit of an emotional day, I would say, to just have something that shows us the light at the end,” said Badeau.

So far, nearly 15,000 people have been vaccinated statewide, according to officials with the Utah Department of Health.

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Utah’s Rural Hospitals Begin Vaccinating Front-Line Caregivers