Healthcare workers and other frontline staff at UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus began receiving COVID-19 vaccines Dec. 15, marking a significant turning point in the response to the pandemic. David Wohl, MD, Medical Director of the COVID Vaccination Clinic at Hillsborough, was the first to be vaccinated.
HILLSBOROUGH, NC – On the first day of COVID-19 vaccinations for UNC Health, the UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus vaccinated 15 people. They started with David Wohl, MD, professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, and Medical Director of the COVID Vaccination Clinic at UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus.
“I’m really honored and touched to be able to be the first person at this clinic to get the shot. I’m medical director now of this clinic, and I think that it really was a great way to signal that this is acceptable and that this is a good choice for people to make,” Wohl said.
The excitement of the historical moment was palpable at Hillsborough. Upbeat music played and cheers were made as Wohl crossed the lobby to sign in at the COVID Vaccination Clinic. Wohl, who has also led COVID-19 treatment clinical trials at UNC, is one of many who have been working tirelessly during the pandemic. He thoughtfully made the choice to receive the vaccine.
“I looked at the data and I looked at the information. I care about my health, I care about my body, and I made a decision that this is the right thing to do. I’m really excited that as more people get to do this, maybe we can start to see an end to this horrible pandemic,” Wohl said.
Jordan Wallace, PGY1 Acute Pharmacy Resident, administered Hillsborough’s first vaccine to Wohl.
“It’s definitely exciting and certainly a relief. And there’s a feeling of hope that this was going to be a step in the right direction,” she said. “I’m very thankful as a pharmacy resident to have been given this opportunity to really make change, to move forward, and to really be trusted that we are essential healthcare workers to be assisting in this pandemic. I’m just excited to be moving forward.”
Hillsborough will be increasing the number of vaccines given there to around 90 each day. In three weeks, they will ramp up to around 180 shots each day – half of which will be second doses of the vaccine for staff who have already received their first vaccination shot.
Michael Harper, a member of UNC Hospital Police, also received his first of two vaccination shots Tuesday.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of the meetings they’ve had regarding planning for this, so I’ve had the privilege of hearing a lot of other people talk about the clinical side, and what it took to get us this far,” Harper said. “There are people who, trust me, have been working night and day nonstop to bring this to us. I’m very thankful to have this opportunity to be one of the first. I think it’s going to be a game changer.”
Each individual healthcare and frontline workers’ decision to receive the vaccine is a personal one. Kammikia Barnes, a medical assistant at the RDC Care & Treat Trailer in Chapel Hill, explained hers.
“I know a lot of people who have been affected by it and have lost loved ones. I personally have lost someone during this entire thing. So that’s why I thought the vaccine would be the perfect thing to do for myself,” she said. “For me, obviously I’m in contact with COVID positive patients on a daily basis. And then I actually went to undergrad for biology. So, I had the background to look up what the vaccine is all about, see the mechanism, see what other scientists have been talking about with the mRNA vaccine, and see if it’s something that I’d actually like to do. So I thought, if I have the opportunity to get it, I will be the first in line.”
UNC Health received a total of 2,925 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, Dec. 15. Vaccinations will continue and more shipments will be received as needed to continue vaccinating our healthcare workers. If you’d like to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Hub at https://www.yourshot.health to get information on science, safety and availability.