Skip to main content

Vanderbilt University Medical Center begins giving COVID-19 vaccines to front-line caregivers

Dec. 17, 2020, 1:07 PM

Tesha Akins
Tesha Akins receives VUMC’s first COVID-19 vaccination from Robin Steaban, MSN, RN, on Thursday, Dec. 17. (photo by Donn Jones)

Vanderbilt University Medical Center began vaccinating its front-line caregivers for COVID-19 on Thursday, Dec. 17.

VUMC hosted an event with Gov. Bill Lee and Commissioner of Health Lisa Piercey, MD, on the Medical Center campus this morning. Lee praised VUMC for its role in caring for COVID-19 patients.

“Thank you for the role Vanderbilt has played throughout this pandemic and thanks to you, in particular, those of you who are here today that will be the first recipients of vaccine and represent hundreds, if not thousands, of front-line workers who have poured your lives into serving people in this state,” he said.

Robin Steaban, MSN, RN, looks on as, from left, Lisa Flemmons, MSN, Todd Rice, MD, Cody Hamilton, RN, and Sophie Whitaker pose for a photo after receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Robin Steaban, MSN, RN, looks on as, from left, Lisa Flemmons, MSN, Todd Rice, MD, Cody Hamilton, RN, and Sophie Whitaker pose for a photo after receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations. (photo by Donn Jones)

“It is very true that today is a hopeful day. People have called this a shot of hope, and we celebrate what is a historic moment and turning point in this pandemic.”

Robin Steaban, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer for Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital, vaccinated five COVID front-line workers. Those who received the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine include Tesha Akins, environmental technician; Lisa Flemmons, MSN, acute care nurse practitioner; Sophie Whitaker, registered respiratory therapist; Cody Hamilton, RN; and Todd Rice, MD, associate professor of Medicine in Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and director of the Medical ICU.

The first vaccine marks the beginning of a carefully orchestrated process to use VUMC’s initial allotment of between 9,000 and 10,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to protect front-line health care workers who are at most risk from COVID-19 infections. (click here to see a video of the first vaccinations at VUMC)

VUMC’s COVID vaccination plan calls for front-line physicians, nurses and staff, such as those who work with confirmed COVID patients during each shift, to have the first opportunity to receive the vaccine. Through a tiered plan, VUMC’s goal is to vaccinate its entire workforce as additional supplies of vaccine become available.

Deidra Dickerson, PharmD, prepares the first vaccinations after they were delivered to VUMC’s Central Pharmacy Thursday morning. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Today’s first vaccinations follow last week’s approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) advisory committee for emergency use authorization for the COVID vaccine created by Pfizer, followed by the approval by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Pfizer vaccine being administered at VUMC is the first to be approved for use in the United States. A second vaccine, from Moderna, is also in the final stages of approval and is expected to be available soon. Both require a first shot and a booster at a later date to be fully effective. Clinical trials showed both vaccines have a 95% success rate.

“This is a really exciting day for us. While taking care of people who are sick is really important, we’ve known for a long time that the way we get out of this pandemic is by preventing people from getting sick and ever getting the disease. The way to do that is through vaccination with an effective vaccine and that process starts for us today in Tennessee. It’s not just the front-line providers who need to get vaccinated; it’s the population to make this go away,” Rice said. “We know what our task is. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to it.”

Numerous media outlets covered VUMC’s first COVID-19 vaccinations. (photo by Erin O. Smith)

Recent Stories from VUMC News and Communications Publications

Vanderbilt Medicine
VUMC Voice