History made as Wheeling Hospital employees first in the valley to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Ohio County

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines has made its way to Wheeling Hospital and as we speak, the inoculation of frontline workers is underway. This means Wheeling Hospital is the first in the Ohio Valley to start vaccinating its employees against COVID-19.  

It’s a historic day for the Ohio Valley as the first round of COVID-19 vaccines rolled in Monday night and now the first of many frontline-workers are rolling up their sleeve to get the dose. 

The shots are working on a tier basis starting with those who have the highest exposure risk, the amount of direct patient care, and groups with risk of staffing shortages. 

The first to get the vaccine off camera in the Ohio Valley was Nurses Aide Debra Ronevich who went on camera 10 minutes later to say she is feeling good. The second was Daniel Burns, a Physician’s Assistant with WVU Medicine, who said it’s a relief to finally get this vaccine and that he’s never been so excited to get a shot in his life.

Wheeling Hospital wants to stress that this COVID-19 shot is going to Wheeling Hospital employees, and not the general public.  

Pfizer’s vaccine was approved by the FDA Friday. But after almost a year of fighting this pandemic without a vaccine, our leaders say this can’t come soon enough. Governor Jim Justice rolled up his sleeve and got his shot Monday night. 

These vaccines are on a voluntary basis, so it does raise the question; how many frontline workers WILL get the vaccine starting today? This will be the first gauge of how people in the Ohio Valley respond to this vaccine. Will everyone be on board, will it be 50/50, or will most wait it out and stick to PPE?  

Ronevich says she knows coworkers who are opting to not get this first round. Burns says he doesn’t know anyone *not* excited to get the vaccine.

Wheeling Hospital Assistant Vice President Tony Martinelli said that they hope to have staff vaccinations complete by mid to late January. Now this vaccine is given in two doses. So, staff that are inoculated Tuesday will come back 21 days later to get their second dose, and then two consecutive weeks later Martinelli says the immunity will be set.

While it’s not for the general public just yet, the vaccine has finally made its way to the Ohio Valley. Martinelli called this the light at the end of the COVID tunnel. We’re still in the tunnel but this is a good sign. 

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