Staff at EMAC receives COVID-19 vaccine

Updated: Dec. 16, 2020 at 6:57 PM EST
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) -More and more staff at the East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) received the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday.

The hospital is one of 15 in the state to receive Pfizer’s first vaccine shipment this week.

“If there’s any way out of this pandemic, it’s with a vaccine,” said Dr. Ricardo Maldonado, EAMC’s infectious disease specialist. “For me, it’s very exciting.”

Hospital leaders at EAMC stepped up to get vaccinated Wednesday afternoon.

That small prick brought a large dose of hope.

“We have seen so much pain and death the last nine months,” Maldonado said. “For me, I can see the light of the end of the tunnel.”

EAMC received 2,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine early Tuesday morning.

“It feels like maybe there’s hope,” said Dr. Michael Roberts, EAMC’s chief of staff. “Maybe we can stop doing all of this, seeing people struggling to breathe, watching people take their last breath. Maybe this is the beginning of the end.”

Hospital staff said getting vaccinated not only will help protect them and their staff from the virus, but also hopefully will calm fears among the public about the vaccine.

“Our job is to educate the people so we can build vaccine confidence,” . Maldonado said.

The vaccine is an exciting step forward in the battle battle against COVID-19 for the long term, but, in the short term, EAMC is battling an increasing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Wednesday afternoon there were 62 COVID-19 patients, tying the previous record set in July.

“All of the same precautions we’ve been preaching since March are still in play,” Roberts said. “It’s not time to stop wearing a mask. It’s not time to stop social distancing. It’s not time to stop avoiding crowds.”

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