Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s first COVID-19 vaccines were administered on Tuesday, December 22 at Watauga Medical Center. Occupational health nurse, Crystal Minton, RN, vaccinated Kevin Wolfe, MD, a pulmonologist who is treating COVID patients at the hospital, followed by Emergency Department nurse Madison Bakken, RN.
“We feel so fortunate to be able to begin vaccinating our frontline workers who are taking care of COVID patients each day,” said Chuck Mantooth, President and CEO of ARHS. “Protecting them means they will stay healthy and continue to be available for the community.”
There was an air of excitement in the room as Dr. Wolfe received his dose, and those within view erupted in applause. Many healthcare workers see these vaccinations as a first step in defeating this virus, and have a renewed sense of hope.
When asked why Dr. Wolfe decided to take the vaccine, he stated, “When you look at the risk and you look at the benefit of taking the vaccination, I believe the benefits far outweigh the risks.” Dr. Wolfe is proud to be a role model for the rest of the community in taking this important step to fight the pandemic.
“I’m incredibly honored to have had this opportunity,” said Bakken. “Today is the first glimmer of hope for us in this dark year.” Madison said she is proud to receive the vaccine in support of her fellow healthcare workers and excited that one day soon she may be able to safely embrace her parents and loved ones again.
North Carolina is currently in Phase 1a of the state’s four-phase plan, which calls for vaccines to be available to healthcare workers and long-term care staff and residents. Phase 1b calls for vaccinating adults at highest risk of severe illness and those at highest risk for exposure according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). Those seeking more information about the state vaccine distribution plan should visit covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.
For more information about the ARHS COVID-19 situation, including testing and vaccination, visit: apprhs.org/covid19/.
Below is a summary of the 4 phases of North Carolina’s vaccination plan:
- Health care workers at high risk for exposure to COVID-19—doctors, nurses, and all who interact and care for patients with COVID-19, including those who clean areas used by patients, and those giving vaccines to these workers.
- Long-Term Care staff and residents — people in skilled nursing facilities and in adult, family and group homes.
- Adults with two or more chronic conditions that put them at risk of severe illness as defined by the CDC, including conditions like cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease and Type 2 diabetes, among others.
- Adults at high risk of exposure including essential frontline workers (police, food processing, teachers), health care workers, and those living in prisons, homeless shelters, migrant and fishery housing with 2+ chronic conditions.
- Those working in prisons, jails and homeless shelters (no chronic conditions requirement).
- Essential frontline workers, health care workers, and those living in prisons, homeless shelters or migrant and fishery housing.
- Adults 65+
- Adults under 65 with one chronic condition that puts them at risk of severe illness as defined by the CDC.
- College and university students.
- K-12 students when there is an approved vaccine for children.
- Those employed in jobs that are critical to society and at lower risk of exposure.
- Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.
About the Vaccines: Frequently Asked Questions