UofL Health continues to lead the community through the COVID-19 pandemic. Monday, Jan. 4, five front-line health care workers received their booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine. The five: Jason Smith, M.D., Valerie Briones-Pryor, M.D., Mohamed Saad, M.D., Beth Sum, RN, and LaShawn Scott, RN, were the first people in Kentucky to receive the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 14.

“The day I received the first shot, I lost my 27th patient to COVID-19. Since then, I’ve lost more patients. This vaccine offers hope, not just to me as a health care worker, but to my patients, their families and our entire community. I’m thankful we now have vaccines to help us protect people from this virus,” said Valerie Briones-Pryor, M.D., who has worked with COVID-19 patients since March 17.

So far, more than 2,000 of UofL Health’s 7,000 front-line employees have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As shipments continue to come in, that number will continue to increase.

“I was honored to be one of the first five UofL Health employees to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Now, I’m administering the vaccine to my colleagues and it feels great to know I’m helping protect them from this terrible illness,” said LaShawn Scott, RN.

The Pfizer vaccine requires a booster shot 21 days after the initial dose. The Moderna vaccine also requires a second dose, 28 days after the initial vaccination. Analysis by the Food and Drug Administration shows the Pfizer vaccine with a 95% effective rate after the second shot and a 94% effective rate for the Moderna vaccine after the second dose.

“It’s vital people receive both doses to ensure the highest level of protection against the virus. Everyone who receives a COVID-19 vaccine through UofL Health is scheduled for their booster appointment before they leave their initial vaccine site,” said Jason Smith, M.D., chief medical officer at UofL Health.

To date, UofL Health has treated more than 1,800 COVID-19 patients.

“This virus impacts everyone. We’ve had ICU patients who are 20 years old and others who are 80. I’m thankful we have vaccines to help protect people, but I also want to remind everyone to continue to wear their masks, wash their hands and social distance,” said Mohamed Saad, M.D., director of critical care at UofL Health.

The initial shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Kentucky on Sunday, Dec. 13. UPS delivered the first shipment to UofL Hospital the next day.

“People are excited. When people come back from receiving their vaccination you can tell how happy they are. I think we felt a little in a rut for a while and this is a nice change of pace to have hope,’’ said Beth Sum, RN.