BURLINGTON – A group of health care workers at The University of Vermont Medical Center as well as EMS personnel from Essex and Williston on Tuesday became the first people in the state to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
Of that group, Cindy Wamsganz, an emergency department nurse at UVM Medical Center, was the first to be vaccinated.
UVM Medical Center President and COO Dr. Stephen Leffler, said the hospital staff who received the vaccine Tuesday are employees who care for COVID-19 patients on a daily basis and who are most at risk for coming in contact with the virus through their work.
Leffler said UVMMC is proud to not only be vaccinating its own staff during this first shipment, but community health care providers as well. Personnel from Essex Rescue and Williston Fire Department were also vaccinated Tuesday at UVM.
Vermont’s first allocation of the approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was delivered ahead of schedule, on Dec. 14. Of the 1,950 delivered Monday, UVMMC received 975.
More shipments of the vaccine are expected to arrive in Vermont later this week, and state officials are working to organize more clinics for those identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Vermont COVID-19 advisory committees and the UVM Health Network as priorities.
A more broad public vaccination effort will follow the first phase and be based on a similar risk identification path from the CDC. UVM Health Network hospitals will be administering the vaccine more widely in the coming months.
UVM Health Network President and CEO Dr. John Brumsted, delivered remarks Tuesday to acknowledge the momentous occasion.
“The message of today is one of hope and looking forward,” he said. “Another emotion is one of intense pride. Pride in our scientists who have brought us a vaccine in record time.”
Brumstead thanked Vermont’s thousands of health care workers for their heroic efforts over the last nine months, and said the vaccine is the public’s way of showing gratitude for their service.
He also commended Gov. Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine for their leadership during this trying time.
“They have brought us ways to approach the epidemic that have kept us safer than many around the country,” Brumstead said.
Secretary Mike Smith, of the Vermont Agency of Human Services, also offered thanks.
“I want to personally thank the individuals here today for setting an example for others,” he said. “You are paving the way.”
“Vermont needs hope that the end of the pandemic is coming. With today’s vaccines and the thousands that will follow over the next several weeks and months, Vermonters can be hopeful that over time they will once again be able to go about their daily lives.”