Photo courtesy of Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center.

Penn State Health administered its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers at Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center Friday.

The first shipment of 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine was delivered to St. Joseph Medical Center on Thursday, December 17. Twelve health care providers who have been working in COVID-19 units were the first to get vaccinated.

“After almost a year working on the front lines treating COVID-19, it is a privilege to be one of the first to receive this groundbreaking vaccine,” said Dr. Brian Rueter, a hospitalist at St. Joseph Medical Center.

“It is my hope that documenting my vaccination will show the community that it is safe, and inspire them to get one when it is available to them.”

Photo courtesy of Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center.

Penn State Health will distribute the vaccine according to the three-phase plan established by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which is based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The initial phase of that plan focuses on health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. The Pfizer vaccine is a two-dose inoculation, with doses administered three weeks apart.

“It’s exciting to see this, and to be a part of this historic day,” said Jenna Riley, a clinical nurse specialist who helped administer the vaccinations. “This feels like we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel after an unprecedented year.”

“I want to thank everyone at St. Joseph Medical Center who has helped us prepare as we get ready to take the vaccine to a larger segment of our hospital community in the next few days,” said Joe Frank, president of St. Joseph Medical Center.

“I commend everyone for the energy and compassion they have shown this year to our patients, our staff and our community. This vaccine could signal the beginning of the end of this pandemic and is a crucial step to returning to normalcy.”

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