Cardiovascular ICU nurse first in Clark County to receive COVID-19 vaccine

A cardiovascular ICU unit nurse at Springfield Regional Medical Center became the first person to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Clark County.

Jennifer Kunkle, who has worked as a nurse at SRMC for the past 16 years, received the vaccine about 1 p.m. Tuesday. She said the vaccine means hope for the Clark County community.

“I hope I’m a good example for the community and for my family. The effectivity of it has been proven and I hope others will share in getting it, too,” Kunkle said.

Kunkle said working during the pandemic has been surreal.

“Hopefully, this vaccine will make its way throughout the community as quickly as the spread came in and help eradicate this virus,” Kunkle said.

The first shipment of 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived at Springfield Regional around 9 a.m. Tuesday and were greeted by Gov. Mike DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine and Mercy Health Springfield President Adam Groshans.

“This is a happy day in Clark County,” DeWine said.

Explore'A happy day in Clark County': DeWine welcomes COVID-19 vaccine to Springfield

Springfield Regional was among eight hospitals statewide to receive shipments of the vaccine on Tuesday. Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus and University of Cincinnati Health were the first two hospitals in the state to receive and administer the vaccine on Monday.

“Beginning yesterday, moving forward every day we are going to see more and more of our front line health workers, people who are exposing their lives and taking chances and protecting us, they are going to be more protected and we are very excited about that,” DeWine said.

All vaccines in the first shipment will be given to high-risk hospital personnel over the course of the next four days, Groshan said.

“Many of our employees have been at it for hours, long hours. Spending extended hours away from their families, fearful of the unknown, they have looked death in the face on a daily basis and they are tired,” Groshan said. “This is certainly a point of pride, but also a point of hope and optimism that we are right around the corner for making some great progress in the fight against COVID.”

Next week, the Clark County Combined Health District will begin giving the vaccines emergency management service personnel and large pharmacy chains will vaccinate staff and residents of long-term care facilities and, Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said Monday.

ExploreFirst coronavirus vaccine doses arrive at Springfield Regional Medical Center

DeWine said vaccines could start being given to long-term care facility staff and residents as soon as Friday.

“This is where we have seen the most people die, or 50% of the people who have died in the state of Ohio from COVID have died in nursing homes,” DeWine said. “So we are very excited about that. Every day going forward we are going to have more and more people who are getting the shots.”

In Clark County, roughly 70% of all COVID-19 deaths have come from long-term care facilities, according to data from the CCCHD.

Clark County had 7,669 cases, 187 deaths and five probable deaths of the coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

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