Kalamazoo hospitals administer first doses of COVID-19 vaccine to frontline workers in Kalamazoo County

First COVID-19 Vaccine in Kalamazoo County
Posted at 5:45 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 17:54:06-05

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — Healthcare workers at two Kalamazoo hospitals received their COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday. They were the first people in the county to do so.

It was an exciting day at Ascension Borgess where five frontline workers including doctors and nurses were the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Kalamazoo County.

One of the doctors who received it said he has hope for the first time in a long time.

"I am so charged and excited right now. Right now, I am very proud to be an American. We did this so fast," said Dr. Jeffrey Wilt, the Director of Medical Critical Care Services at Ascension Borgess.

Doctor Wilt said he is finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

He was one of the first in Kalamazoo County to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and once it's safe, there's a big moment he's been looking forward to for the last 10 months.

"My mom has metastatic colon cancer, and I have not been able to give my mom a hug throughout the whole thing. I cannot wait for everyone to be safe, so I can actually give my mom a hug," said Dr. Wilt.

A registered nurse in the emergency department said it didn't hit him till Thursday morning when he woke up and realized he would be among the first to get it in the county.

"I think it gives people hope and gets the country to head back to normal life. It seems like it has been so long now," said Andrew Hofacre, a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department at Ascension Borgess.

Ascension Borgess wasn't the only area hospital to get the vaccine though. Bronson Methodist received over 1,900 doses, and also vaccinated their first group of frontline workers on Thursday.

Ascension Borgess received around 975 doses just hours before administering the first ones.

"These people come in here and work under very difficult circumstances. We are all stressed for staff taking care of very sick patients, many of them dying. Then they have to go home, strip their clothes off, take a shower and be worried about passing it along to their family members. This is one more tool we’ve got to protect people who are doing the work for our community. It is a big deal," said Ascension Borgess' Chief Medical Officer Dr. Thomas Rohs.

Those who were given the COVID-19 vaccine said it stung even less than the flu shot. In three weeks, they'll go back to receive their second doses.