EASTON — University of Maryland Shore Regional Health received about 100 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, and vaccinated 15 of its hospitals’ frontline workers throughout the Mid-Shore the following morning.
Among the first 15 people to be vaccinated for the deadly coronavirus on the Eastern Shore were staff members in the hospital system’s emergency departments, COVID-19 units, infectious disease and other departments, according to spokesperson Trena Williamson.
“This vaccine is the hope we have all been waiting for — not just for our frontline health care workers, but also our communities,” said UM Shore Regional President and CEO Ken Kozel.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Rosa Mateo, who oversees the COVID-19 care units at the UM Shore Medical Centers at Chestertown, Dorchester and Easton, was the first staff member to receive the vaccine.
Mateo said she’s been “waiting for this day since the pandemic started.” She was excited to be the first person to get vaccinated in the Mid-Shore region.
“I did this not only for myself, but for my family, my co-workers and all the patients that may need to visit us from our communities,” she said. “This vaccine will help us get back to our normal lives, before the pandemic started.”
UM Shore Regional Health received fewer than 100 of the 975 vaccine doses allocated to the University of Maryland Medical System for distribution across its 13 hospitals. The hospital system is administering the vaccine to its workers in a “tiered system that prioritizes frontline team members involved in patient care.”
Williamson said UM Shore Regional Health intends to administer all of its allotted vaccine to team members this week, and expects the Maryland Department of Health to distribute additional doses within the next week.
On Dec. 11, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first coronavirus vaccine granted emergency authorization in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration — about nine months into the pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 90 Mid-Shore residents.
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health were the first in the country to test the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for safety, efficacy and dosing, according to a news release from UM Shore Regional Health.
“The recent authorization of this safe and effective vaccine paves the way for our System to begin vaccinating our frontline staff,” Kozel said. “We are proud to be among the first in the country to receive this life-saving vaccine so we can continue to care for the communities we love and who trust us to provide exceptional care.”
Dr. William Huffner, UM Shore Regional Health’s chief medical officer and COVID-19 incident commander, said he looks forward to “turning the page on this moment in our nation’s history as more people are able to be vaccinated in the coming days and months ahead.”
“This vaccine is a critical part of our ability to successfully combat this highly infectious disease,” Huffner said. “We have been looking forward to this day for months. Protecting our communities is what we do. Now, with the vaccine, we can ensure we are further protecting our frontline teams’ ability to do just that.”