December 21, 2020

Images of hope: A look at the arrival of the first COVID-19 vaccines at VUMC

Photographs by Donn Jones, Erin O. Smith and Susan Urmy

Mark Sullivan, Associate Chief Pharmacy Officer prepares the COVID-19 vaccine for Vanderbilt Medical Center frontline employees on the first official day of vaccine being given to employees on December 18, 2020. Photos by Donn Jones/Vanderbilt University Medical Center

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

On the morning of Thursday, Dec. 17, the first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Central Pharmacy, where the long-awaited cargo was transferred to a freezer set to -80 degrees F for storage.

Within only a few minutes, some of the vials were already administered to several front-line workers from VUMC’s COVID unit. At an event at the Medical Center attended by Gov. Bill Lee and Commissioner of Health Lisa Piercey, MD, Robin Steaban, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer for Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital, vaccinated five COVID front-line workers.

The VUMC Reporter article about that first day is here.

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.

These five volunteers were only the beginning; the next day a carefully-planned mass vaccination of Vanderbilt’s front-line workers began. 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.

Over the course of the first two days of the vaccine at Vanderbilt, News and Communications photographers Donn Jones, Erin O. Smith and Susan Urmy documented its arrival and the beginning of the Medical Center’s vaccine program. Here are some images from those days.

On the morning of Dec. 17, 2020, the first shipment of the Pfizer COVID vaccine arrives at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The shipment is enveloped in dry ice to keep the vaccine cold in transport. Photo by Susan Urmy
Mark Sullivan, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, unpacks the COVID vaccine, along with Kevin Scharfman, PharmD. The vaccine must be stored at -80 F in special freezers in the VUMC Central Pharmacy. Photo by Susan Urmy
VUMC Pharmacy Manager Deidra Dickerson dilutes the solution and prepares syringes for the administration of the first COVID vaccines at Vanderbilt. Photo by Susan Urmy  
Shortly after the vaccine’s arrival and preparation in the Pharmacy, Robin Steaban, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer for Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital gave the first COVID vaccine to Tesha Akins, environmental technician on the COVID unit. Photo by Donn Jones
As part of the Dec. 17 event at VUMC, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee spoke. Photo by Erin O. Smith
Cody Hamilton, RN, is administered the Pfizer COVID vaccine in front of press by Robin Steaban, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer for Vanderbilt. Hamilton has been directly involved in caring for COVID ICU patients since the pandemic began in spring, 2020. Photo by Erin O. Smith
A ray of hope: vials of Pfizer COVID vaccine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Photo by Erin O. Smith
The day after the vaccine’s arrival, Friday, Dec. 18, the mass vaccination program for VUMC employees got under way. Before dawn, Yufang Ma of the VUMC Central Pharmacy transported the COVID vaccine to Langford Auditorium on the Medical Center campus, which was transformed into a staging area for vaccination. Photo by Donn Jones
April Hanlotxomphou, NP, APRN gets the COVID vaccine from Jennifer Mitchell on the first day. VUMC front-line employees could receive the vaccine on Dec. 18, 2020, in Langford Auditorium. Photo by Donn Jones
Some of those getting vaccines wanted to document the moment for the encouragement of friends or for social media. Katie Cole, MSN, ACNP is about to give Kathleen Davis, RN, BSN the COVID vaccine from Jennifer Mitchell. Photo by Donn Jones
Roberta Winfrey, Clinical Trials Specialist with the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program, receives her vaccination from April Kapu, DNP, APRN, CCNP-BC. Photo by Donn Jones
While the vaccines were being given to VUMC employees on the main campus on Dec. 18, front-line workers at Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital also began receiving COVID vaccinations. Abby Feazel, RN, a nurse in the intensive care unit, at VWCH, is administered her Pfizer COVID vaccine by Rachael Roberts, LPN. Photo by Erin O. Smith
Front-line employees at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt also began receiving COVID vaccinations, as the hospital’s theater was repurposed for a vaccine staging area. Photo by Donn Jones
Negest Alum, RN, gives a shot to Nicholas Stoffel, MD, MS, at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt on Dec. 18, 2020. Photo by Donn Jones
In these hands there is hope — On these two days, Dec. 17 and Dec. 18, 2020, the first vaccines arrived, were diluted, and the mass vaccination of front-line health workers began, representing hope for turning the tide against the pandemic. Photo by Susan Urmy